Speaking at Intermedium’s Half Year-Executive Update and NSW Election Briefing on Wednesday, Pat Richards, the former founding Managing Director of NSW Businesslink, was frank about the “cultural hurdles” that divide government and industry.
“Effective change takes a lot of cups of coffee,” he said, referring to the experience many industry representatives have of working with the NSW Government.
Working at the nexus between government and industry at the shared services company, he observed that the government agenda is not the same as the industry agenda, to the detriment of achieving sustained, lower operating costs in government ICT.
The NSW Liberal Party, however, has entered the election race with industry cooperation positioned as one of its core ICT policy planks.
Opposition spokesperson for ICT Greg Pearce has released a four page statement on the Coalition’s intentions for government ICT.
The statement indicates that the Coalition intends to establish “a single, high-level body made up of ministers and department executives, accompanied by a consulting committee of private sector representatives to establish and maintain a whole-of-government ICT strategy”.
In a prior interview with the Australian, Pearce said, "this governance body could be supported by a consultative committee incorporating private-sector representatives to advise on best practice, ensure the whole-of-government ICT strategy keeps pace with emerging technologies and to make recommendations on future directions".
Richards told delegates at Intermedium’s briefing that it was essential that governments looked beyond the election and budgetary cycles when it came to core infrastructure investment through strategic life-cycle asset deployment. This would be key to effective operating cost containment going forward.
“Governments need to start saying, if I asset deploy better, can I mitigate my future costs as a consequence,” he said.
Pearce’s document says the Coalition has a commitment to fixing government ICT procurement and that this includes shifting investment cycles to meet hardware life cycles rather than annual budgets.
Richards also used his address as an opportunity to forecast macro level, societal issues that will inevitably have an impact on the NSW Government’s ICT activity over the next ten years.
“Information security is going to become a really big issue to grapple with,” he said.
He also singled out environmental leadership plus sustainability outcomes as an increasingly important issue for government ICT. “One hundred or so data centres around the place can’t be good for the environment,” he said.
He added that governments, and NSW in particular, would have to become more citizen-centric as the cost of maintaining an ageing society grew and taxpayers demanded more evidence of value for their money. ICT can and should be at the forefront of untangling the demand paradigm.
NEXT INTERMEDIUM BRIEFING
John Grant, First Assistant Secretary, Procurement Division of the Department of Finance and Deregulation will be the Keynote Speaker at Intermedium's Federal breakfast briefing on Wednesday 6 April 2011 at The Boat House by the Lake in Canberra.