In a speech to the Smart Card Summit last week, Minister for Human Services, Joe Ludwig, made a number of telling comments about the future of smart cards and about Federal Government ICT projects in general.
He indicated that mega ICT projects, with their cost blow-outs and inherent risks would no longer be part of the Federal market landscape. Instead, he suggested that the Government would take a step-by-step or modular approach wherever possible, with each step in the process expected to “stack up on its own”. One of the benefits of such an approach, according to the Minister, would be that smaller companies would be able to participate.
“From the government’s perspective it means we can minimise risk as well as keep our options open in terms of suppliers. From the perspective of suppliers it means you get more opportunities to bid for the work you’re best at”
Speaking to the Canberra Times today, Kevin Noonan (Head of Consulting at Intermedium) said of this approach, “It’s something the industry will be able to engage in very well; even the big fellows will be happy”, he said.
Senator Ludwig also suggested that while the Rudd Government had no in-principle objection to smart cards, any future development would need to involve private industry. He also indicated that the Government may elect to use the cheaper traditional magnetic swipe card in the short term to monitor welfare payments.
He said that governments must make careful decisions about which technological solutions to adopt and when. "Even if the Access Card was signed off by the Department of Finance, I don't think it made good sense for the government to be involved in the roll out."
Ludwig said it will be up to the private sector to create a national smart card (if required). The government would create payment standards for the transfer of payments and leave the private sector to roll-out and implement.