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New Defence ICT Strategy underway

by Pallavi Singhal •
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The Department of Defence has begun work on updating its Defence ICT Strategy 2009, with a new Strategy expected to be publically available in 2014.

“With the release of the 2013 White Paper and significant changes to the ICT industry since 2009, an updated Defence ICT Strategy is currently being considered,” a spokesperson from Defence told Intermedium.

“Defence assesses the requirement to update ICT Strategies based on changes in guidance from government, including new White Papers, as well as an assessment of changes in the broader ICT sector that may require a new approach for the delivery of ICT in Defence.”

The new Coalition Government’s ICT Policy, and specifically its plan for heavy IT-using agencies, is likely to influence Defence’s future planning. Although the Policy gives relative autonomy to large agencies due to the complexity of their IT environments, it also imposes stricter accountability measures including the requirement to “provide and regularly update three-year investment plans to the Department of Finance and Deregulation and the Australian Government Information Management Office”.

These plans will inform the potential development of ICT coordination and identification of investment sharing opportunities across larger agencies. In the long-term, the Policy envisions the “development of centres of specialised capability and expertise”, with agencies taking on whole-of-government responsibility and leadership in their specific field of ICT expertise.

Many of the major deliverables in the 2009 ICT Strategy have started to become visible recently.

This includes two of the three main deliverables in Defence’s ICT Strategic Reform Program, which is aimed at improving governance, investment efficiency and project delivery, primarily through the consolidation of numerous contracts across IT services bundles.

Defence’s approach to market for the Distributed Computing bundle is expected towards the end of 2013. The process of streamlining services, which are currently outsourced to Fujitsu, Unisys and a number of other suppliers, will follow the appointment of a supplier.

The Centralised Processing component of the Program is also ongoing, and involves the consolidation of over 200 Defence data centres into fewer than 10 domestic and three international facilities. Defence secured one of these facilities in 2010, in a 10-year deal with Global Switch. The Department approached the market in September 2012 for single supplier to provide Centralised Processing Services under the data centre consolidation. It announced in September 2013 that two suppliers, IBM and Lockheed Martin, have been shortlisted to proceed to the next phase of parallel negotiations. The preferred tenderer is expected to be announced in early 2014, with the contract to be awarded in the third quarter of 2014.

The Terrestrial Communications bundle is the only component of the Reform Program to have been fully implemented, when Defence outsourced the bulk of its telecommunications services to Telstra in April 2013, in a $1.1 billion 6.5 year deal.

Planned improvements to the Department-wide Services Oriented Architecture and Defence Information Environment are yet to be fully implemented. Planned improvements include the development of solutions and architectures to promote more efficient information sharing and security of the Department’s ICT environment.

Defence’s Chief Information Officer Group, which has end-to-end responsibility over the information environment, is continuing to “review and improve the integrity and security of the Defence Information Environment and develop a new comprehensive Single Information Environment Security Architecture”, according to the most recent annual report.

The development of a Defence ICT Services Catalogue also remains on the agenda. The Department is still refining “service provision based on balancing requirements with funds and resourcing”, according to the annual report. The Catalogue aims to centralise the “articulation of ICT services” and their delivery, and is part of the broader Information Technology Service Management Program.

Other areas of the 2009 Strategy that have been successfully delivered include:

  • The implementation of a single secure desktop program with multilevel information sharing capabilities, through the Next Generation Desktop project undertaken in conjunction with Thales;
  • The introduction of a two-pass procurement process for Defence ICT projects, with the analysis of a range of options and a cost-benefit analysis at the first stage, followed by “further development and cost refinement” at the second stage;
  • The implementation of the Integrated Defence Architecture to replace the existing Defence Architecture Framework including the development an end-to-end network is underway and on track; and
  • The development of the high-speed Defence Strategic Communications Network is in the “process of implementation”, according to the Defence spokesperson.

The new Strategy development comes at a time of change in the ICT management environment at Defence, with the Department currently searching for a new Chief Technology Officer. Former Defence CTO Matt Yannopolous recently left the position to take on the CIO role at the now Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Defence is searching for a permanent replacement, and the successful candidate will play an important role in the delivery of the Department’s ICT Strategy.

The CTO, who answers directly to the Chief Information Officer Peter Lawrence, is responsible for the Defence ICT architecture, including the delivery of core ICT systems and applications. As head of the Chief Technology Officer Division, the CTO is also in charge of consolidating IT functions, implementing common standards and processes, managing existing assets, and overseeing the acquisition or development of new systems.

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For more information, please contact the Editor (02) 9955 9896.

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