The NSW Government’s new ICT Investment Policy and Guidelines (the Policy) puts teeth into the NSW government’s previously oft-articulated desire to achieve greater levels of ‘share, before buy, before build’. It is also likely to provide fewer addressable market opportunities but potentially larger market share for ICT suppliers with its mandate that NSW agencies must consider as-a-service options, focus on collaboration and re-use and standardise technologies and solutions.
A further potential implication of the Policy is that any such larger opportunities generated by co-ordinated procurement, are more likely to be won by major suppliers rather small to medium enterprises (SMEs) due to the resultant scale and therefore assessed risk of the required solution.
The Policy allocates a key advisory role to the NSW Government ICT Leadership Group (the Leadership Group) in identifying Whole of Government (WofG) ICT investment opportunities where agencies with similar needs could utilise an existing solution or collaboratively approach the market for a shared solution.
The Leadership Group was established early in the O’Farrell government’s term as a part of its new ICT governance arrangements. It brings together Chief Information Officers and senior business managers from across the government and is chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Finance and Services and Whole-of-Government CIO, Laurie Glanfield.
The Investment Principles
The Policy states that “all NSW Government ICT investment decisions will demonstrate the application of the following whole of government ICT Investment Principles:
- comply with relevant whole of government ICT policies and standards, including Information Management, Data Centre Reform, Corporate and Shared Services Reform and Information Security;
- consider a service orientation, including ‘as a service’ sourcing models;
- consider online access and support the sharing of data, as appropriate;
- focus on collaboration and re-use by demonstrating that there are no existing ICT solutions that can be leveraged;
- demonstrate standardisation and interoperability of technologies and solutions;
- demonstrate better value to government and citizens over the life of the investment”.
ICT projects will be taken through a three phase process under the Policy.
Strategic planning discussion
The first phase is to consist of strategic planning discussions between agency representatives and the ICT Leadership Group. In addition, Chief Information Officers will be required to present strategic directions and their forward work program to the Group for review and feedback.
As part of its strategic planning input to agencies the Leadership Group will advise if nominated projects meet the Investment Principles.
Development of ICT proposals
In the second phase, clusters / agencies will consider and develop investment proposals based on advice received from the ICT Leadership Group. They will be required to perform a self-assessment of how their proposal meets the Investment Principles to facilitate consideration of it by the Leadership Group.
During this phase clusters / agencies would apply, on a case-by-case basis, to The Treasury for funding of the development of business cases.
Business case review
Only business cases which are to be put to Treasury (and any additional business cases requested by the ICT Board) go through to Phase 3. For such business cases, the Leadership Group will provide advice to the ICT Board on:
- The degree to which the project meets the Investment Principles; and
- Priorities and priority projects for government.
Both Treasury feedback and Leadership Group’s advice will be provided to the relevant cluster or agency.
The ICT Board will advise Cabinet Standing Committee on Expenditure Review (ERC) and clusters / agencies on the application of the Investment Principles in business cases, based on information provided by the Leadership Group. This advice will be given in parallel with Treasury’s advice to ERC.
Under the Policy, agencies will be expected to use the NSW Buy Service Catalogue. The Policy states, “Delivering services through a whole of government service catalogue will leverage NSW Government purchasing power to secure the most effective pricing, and support common approaches, technologies and systems.” Along with the advice of the Leadership Group, the catalogue will help identify opportunities to adopt, share or reuse services.
“The framework is designed to minimise duplication and support common approaches that promote efficiencies across government. Importantly, the ICT Investment Policy and Guidelines will help ensure government-held information is managed in a consistent way to deliver better services to the community,” said Minister for Finance and Services, Andrew Constance in a media release.
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