The Federal Government has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Intel Australia to facilitate a shared “digital economy vision”.
The agreement was announced by the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, (DBCDE) Stephen Conroy and General Manager of Intel Asia Pacific, Navin Shenoy in Melbourne on 1 October 2010. According to a statement posted on the Intel website, the agreement seeks to “help accelerate the benefits of the digital economy”.
Under the MOU, “the two parties will work to identify areas in which digital technologies can help can help to deliver economic growth as well as benefits in education, health and the environment,” the statement said.
The MOU is essentially an information sharing agreement, whereby the Government will provide Intel with updates of the progress of its Digital Economy Strategy, and will use Intel as a “sounding board on possible initiatives to promote an NBN-enabled Digital Economy,” according to a separate statement issued by Minister Conroy.
It is likely this is an initiative spearheaded by Conroy in his new role of Minister assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity, perhaps shedding some light on what ICT responsibilities will fall within this new portfolio.
Conroy has portrayed the agreement as symbolic of the Government’s strong working relationship with industry.
“The Gillard Government works with many industry players to ensure Australia is well placed to leverage the economic and social benefits that participating in a digital economy can provide.
“This agreement formalises work with Intel and makes clear the Government’s intension (sic) to continue to collaborate with industry”.
However, no other members of industry have entered into formal MOUs with the Government on the digital economy. Intel has had a longstanding relationship with the Government in an advisory capacity.
In 2008, Intel was a key player in the consultation process for the development of the Australia’s Digital Economy: Future Directions paper. It also made a formal submission to the Government on telecommunications regulatory reform in June 2009.
Intel is not a supplier to government which is likely to be one reason Conroy felt comfortable entering into the MOU. Since Intel is not a competitor on the government ICT market, the move is unlikely to alienate any of the government’s chief providers, or present conflicts of interest in procurement activities.
Intel has also been a strong supporter of the Gillard Government and in particular its broadband policy. In September 2010, Intel’s Australia and New Zealand managing director Philip Cronin told CRN that Labor’s re-election “will allow the IT industry, and the business community in general, to plan with confidence”.
In the October 1 statement following the signing of the MOU, Mr Cronin lauded the NBN, saying:
“The National Broadband Network is the right thing to do...This MOU agreement is about looking beyond the politics of an NBN and instead focusing on the opportunities it creates for Australia’s sustained competitiveness in the 21st century digital economy”.
The MOU agreement is for an initial period of three years.