The Department of Finance (Finance) has launched an online tool to allow agencies to collaborate and reuse ICT solutions amongst themselves.
The release of the tool, to be known as GovShare, comes at a time when various jurisdictions have been emphasising a ‘share, before buy, before build’ approach to ICT procurement.
Marc Vickers, Assistant Secretary of Digital Government Strategy at the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO), announced the release of the new tool in a statement on Finance’s website at the beginning of June.
“GovShare is an online repository containing re-useable resources for the APS. It complements a range of existing Whole of Government (WoG) products, including GovDex, and offers self-registration for commonwealth government employees” states Vickers.
GovShare hosts the Agency Solutions Database, formerly known as the Government Solutions Register. According to a spokesperson from Finance, the Database currently holds a list of 1,205 solutions across the APS.
GovShare offers agencies the ability to:
- Publish, discover and access a broad range of artefacts used within the APS, such as policies, frameworks, guidelines, standards, open source software and a host of other information and communications technology (ICT) and business artefacts;
- Explore APS ICT services and solutions through the Agency Online Services Database and Agency Solutions Database;
- Contribute to online discussions using the forum; and
- Find skilled people across the APS with expertise in particular fields or products.
A list of commercial and open source software is maintained by Finance whilst agencies are encouraged to add their own items if not listed already.
“APS agencies have access to directly enter solutions to the database through their nominated GovShare Agency Data Coordinator. It is mandatory for agencies to report on solutions in line with the ICT Customisation and Bespoke Development Policy, which is aimed at reducing the percentage of customised and bespoke solutions across government”, said the Department’s spokesperson.
In a presentation filmed at GovCamp in August 2013, Evelyn Chung, a Project Officer at AGIMO, gave further insight into the development of the platform.
According to Chung, in 2011 GovShare received a soft launch as a proof of concept “to help agencies share and reuse ICT artefacts across agency and jurisdictional boundaries”.
It quickly came apparent from user feedback during the soft launch that the upload of artefacts was too time consuming, the management of communities was onerous to the authorised parties and the new system relied heavily on the user having extensive knowledge of HTML.
The implementation of GovShare was one of the action items in the Department of Finance’s 2012-15 ICT Strategy and was slated for completion by the end of 2013-14.
Chung revealed that the decision to include the ability to search for people across government with a required skillset through GovShare was due to the shortage of skilled ICT workers across government.
The 2012-13 State of the Service Report revealed that ICT experienced the highest level of moderate and severe skill shortages when compared to other job families.
34 per cent of agencies experienced limited shortages in ICT staffing, 30 per cent experienced moderate shortages and five per cent experienced severe shortages, with the ICT job roles that experienced the greatest skill shortage being in security, development and programming, business process analysis/design and program-project management.