WA, SA, VIC closing the gap, but NSW still in the lead
The content of this free article has been adapted from a comprehensive report by Intermedium on the DGRI available exclusively to subscribers, which contains a full breakdown of how your jurisdiction scored in each category and why.
Drawn by the promise of reduced costs and improved services to citizens, governments across Australia are making rapid progress in their digital transformation.
In a joint announcement at the establishment of the Digital Transformation Office in January 2015, Malcolm Turnbull and then-Prime Minister Tony Abbott stated that “interacting with government should be as easy as Internet banking or ordering a taxi through an app”. Around Australia, governments are noting that in the private sector, and also particularly the United Kingdom Government, services are being designed around the needs of the customer (or the citizen), rather than their organisation’s internal functions.
However, before governments can achieve the nirvana of citizen-driven services, there are a number of key enablers that must be put in place by governments. Intermedium has identified six categories of enablers, and scored each jurisdiction according to the degree to which they have made progress towards putting these enablers in place.
Weighted scores in eleven key criteria across the six categories have been allocated to each jurisdiction. The six categories are:
- ICT strategy;
- ICT policy;
- ICT governance;
- Existence and prominence of a nominated whole of government (WofG) service delivery agency;
- Procurement policy; and
- Cross-jurisdictional cooperation.
The result of Intermedium’s evaluation is published as Intermedium’s Digital Government Readiness Indicator (DGRI).
This release of the DGRI shows significant progress by some previously-lagging jurisdictions in the area of digital transformation following a wave of WofG ICT strategy releases.
All jurisdictions except the Northern Territory have increased their score out of a maximum possible of 10 over the twelve month period covered by last three Indicators.
The consistent high scorers:
New South Wales was already in a strong position due to the amount of enabling work it had done for digital transformation prior to July 2015. The state has not rested on its laurels, however, and the intervening twelve months have seen significant advances in policy generation, procurement reform, and innovative service delivery through model agency Service NSW.
The final update of the state ICT Strategy 2012-2015, Digital+ 2016, brought home the NSW Government’s vision of integrating data analytics directly into the mechanisms of government decision-making through the work of the Government Data Analytics Centre, in addition to further promoting the release of government data for use by industry through its 2016 refresh of its Open Data Policy and new Open Data Action Plan.
After an absence of some years as a stand-alone role, the position of NSW WofG Chief Information and Digital Officer was created in May 2016, with former Macquarie Bank CIO Damon Rees taking on the role and assuming the ICT WofG CIO responsibilities of Department of Finance, Services and Innovation Secretary Martin Hoffman.
Queensland has retained its second-place position (albeit now sharing that rank with South Australia) thanks to a consistent record of solid and up-to-date policy and performance. While not as advanced in its digital transformation as NSW, the state shows solid improvement in the areas of innovative data analytics adoption and online services provision, and has shown a clear (and evidence-supported) vision for the future of digital government.
Queensland has recently released an update to its ICT Strategy 2013-17 in the form of a May refresh of its ICT Modernisation Plan. The updated policy calls for a more systematic approach to transitioning to as-a-Service and cloud solutions, as well as procurement reform and ICT skills growth within the Queensland Public Service.
While Queensland has historically lagged in the area of cyber-security, the establishment of a new, $12.5 million Cyber-Security Unit – announced in February and operating through the Office of the Government CIO – should lead to meaningful future policy renewal in this area.
DGRI score rate of progress, July 2015 to July 2016
The big movers:
By far the greatest increase in score over the last year has occurred in Western Australia, which has established an Office of the Government Chief Information Officer and released its first ICT strategy as well as a number of enabling ICT policies.
The inaugural Western Australian ICT Strategy was launched in May, outlining a series of specific initiatives including a new digital services portal, a solutions marketplace to support innovative ICT sourcing models, an ICT dashboard, and enhanced ICT governance structures.
South Australia has historically shown leadership in digital transformation governance – it was the first state to abolish its CIO position in favour of a WofG Director of Digital Government, shifting the emphasis of ICT leadership to citizen-facing digital service delivery – and its policy updates and other work by the Office for Digital Government have now led to it ranking equal second on the DGRI.
The state released a refresh of its 2013 ICT Strategy SA Connected in April 2016, with a focus on digital disruption and growing the public sector ICT skill base. SA also plans to adopt a more collaborative approach to ICT by strengthening bonds with other governments and local councils, as well as not-for-profit organisations, community groups, and tertiary institutions.
During 2015-16, Victoria laid the groundwork that will enable it to begin showing real returns from its digital transformation. The most momentous driver of change was the creation of the still-embryonic Service Victoria, a citizen-centric key service delivery agency modelled on Service NSW that received $81.1 million for the next stage of its development in the 2016-17 state budget.
Victoria released a new WofG 2016-2020 IT Strategy in May. In part to reverse the state’s well-documented history of failed ICT programs, the Victorian strategy focuses on improving project management and governance, increasing staff ICT skills, and re-using systems across agencies. Victoria also re-introduced a beta release of its public-facing ICT project dashboard in July 2016, and released updated Protective Data Security Standards in August.
The Federal Government has made significant strides in innovation, policy generation, and procurement reform off the back of the National Innovation and Science Agenda. Cyber-security was also at the forefront of the government’s priorities following the release in April of its long-awaited 2016 Cyber Security Strategy, which expanded on measures proposed in February’s Defence White Paper.
Unfortunately, the Federal Government continues to score poorly on its core WofG ICT Strategy – the 2012 APS ICT strategy has now expired, and there has been no announcement of any plans to update it. The de facto driver of federal ICT policy is the Coalition’s ICT platform: A short pre-election Policy for Better and More Accessible Digital Services document was released by the Coalition in June, promising a digital transformation taskforce and roadmap, as well as re-stating commitments originally made in the Coalition’s 2013 pre-election e-Government policy.
The ACT has allowed its existing ICT strategy – last refreshed in 2011 – to lapse, costing the state points that were only partly counterbalanced by the release of the Open Data strategy in December 2015.
Also released in 2011, Tasmania’s ICT strategy is fast approaching its implicit expiry date in 2017. Despite its ageing strategy, the state’s overall score was likewise bolstered slightly thanks to the February 2016 release of its Open Data policy.
The Northern Territory is now the only Australian jurisdiction to have never published a WofG ICT strategy, though one is currently in development according to the Department of Corporate and Information Services’ 2014-15 Annual Report.
Across all jurisdictions, there remain considerable opportunities for improvement in the areas of ICT governance reform, consolidation of approach, and cross-agency coordination – as well as cross-jurisdiction coordination.
The content of this article has been adapted from a comprehensive report by Intermedium on the DGRI, which contains a full breakdown of how your jurisdiction scored in each category and why.
The full report is only available to Intermedium subscribers. If you would like to view more of our paid content and find out more about subscription services from Intermedium, please email us, phone (02) 9955 9896, or visit www.intermedium.com.au.