In what looks like an example of "One person's problem is another person's opportunity", the Commonwealth Ombudsman has put Federal agencies on notice to clean up their act when it comes to administrative practises. If agencies take his comments seriously, there could well be increased business opportunities for companies providing data management and record keeping systems and services.
The Ombudsman's investigation of 247 cases of wrongful detention by the former Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, highlighted a range of administrative failures that he said provided lessons for all agencies.
In a pointed remark aimed at all agencies, the Ombudsman, Professor McMillan said agencies should not wait for an external crisis to focus attention on their problems but should pick up the warning signs through internal monitoring and quality control and through internal and external complaint handling.
The Ombudsman has just released a new publication Lessons for Public Administration which lists 10 lessons for the Public Service:
1. Maintain accurate, comprehensive and accessible records 2. Place adequate controls on the exercise of coercive powers 3. Actively manage unresolved and difficult cases 4. Heed the limitations of information technology systems 5. Guard against erroneous assumptions 6. Control administrative drift 7. Remove obstacles to prudent information exchange with other agencies and bodies 8. Promote effective communication in your own agency 9. Manage complexity in decision making 10. Check for warning signs of bigger problems
A number of these issues relate to IT systems, records management, information and communication systems, and decision-making. Suppliers with offerings in these areas might like to consider initiating discussions with their clients and prospects in the light of the Ombudsman's recommendations.
Intermedium provides specialist sales training courses for companies selling ICT to government organisations. One of the issues highlighted during those courses is the importance of "reading the tea leaves" to identify potential areas of opportunity. Valuable sources of information about technology trends and "hot spots" include reports such as this Ombudsman's report. They give clues as to areas of priority within government agencies that could lead to demand for particular ICT systems.