Industry engagement and consultation has been one of the hallmarks of the O’Farrell Government’s approach to ICT since it assumed Government in April 2011.
But, as NSW Government CIO and Director General of the Department of Finance and Services (DFS), Michael Coutts-Trotter told a room full of industry members at the AIIA’s Open Government forum this week, its a process that both sides need to get better at.
“We had the task of building a business case to have a look at the possible outsourcing of business processes and IT processes for about 30,000 public servants,” explained Coutts-Trotter.
“We engaged with pretty much everyone in the global BPO and ITO industry... We really needed this process to explore what the available solutions are, what the supply chain that sits behind them is, and what you as the industry have got coming up.
“To do that we took on a couple of independents from outside Government,” he said.
The most senior of these executives was Doug Snedden, who was appointed as Chairman of the Government Business Services program board. Snedden is a former Managing Director of Accenture’s Australian operations, but retired in 2008.
However his appointment still concerned some industry representatives enough to air their concerns anonymously to The Australian. “Industry players are concerned that Mr Snedden could in future influence the outcome of government tenders or the procurement process,” reporter Fran Foo wrote.
Reflecting on the events, Coutts-Trotter assured industry members at the event that they never had anything to worry about.
“It wasn’t a procurement discussion,” he said.
He also said that mutual trust and openness are needed to form the foundation of meaningful cooperation, but in this consultative process these had been lacking.
“Friends tell each other the truth,” he said. “So I want to give you some feedback about this market engagement process.
“Collectively we need to find a mature way of dealing with one another so we can run these dialogues in a way that will allow government to recognise it as a productive process.”
While the nature and progress of the outsourcing business case has not been made public, the NSW Government has made it very clear to date that it intends to overhaul the shared services model currently operating in the State.
“I will admit that we have not got the solution going forward clear just yet but we are working on it,” Finance and Services Minister Greg Pearce said last month.
“We are also looking towards outsourcing options because of course there are businesses out there that can do this work much better than we can,” he added.