Following Barry O’Farrell’s official Liberal Party campaign launch on 20 February 2011, the shape of the NSW Coalition’s ICT position is becoming more apparent, with a number of policies either focusing on or featuring elements of information technology. With opinion polls predicting a Liberal victory after the election on 26 March, these policies have the potential to alter several elements of ICT in the NSW government arena, including the innovative use of technology, procurement, industry regulation and e-government.
Innovative Use of Technology
The Coalition, if elected, plans to introduce several initiatives which make innovative use of information technology capabilities, including a TeleHealth centre and a 21st Century Neighbourhood Watch Program.
The TeleHealth project adopts and develops the worldwide move towards e-health technology by establishing a $2 million TeleHealth Centre in Penrith, NSW. The Centre will use a variety of telecommunications technologies, including teleconferencing, videoconferencing, the internet, smartphones and various other communications to monitor patients in regional and rural areas.
‘This is a positive practical plan to use new and emerging technology to better deliver health services closer to home for patients across NSW’, Mr. O’Farrell said of the policy.
‘The proliferation of accessible online services like Skype have created new opportunities NSW needs to be taking advantage of’
The 21st Century Neighbourhood Watch Program will launch ten online neighbourhood watch groups, using telecommunications to allow people to discuss crime trends and share information. A newly-established website will also allow police to issue real-time warnings to members.
Shadow Minister for Financial Management, Greg Pearce, has also indicated in the media that the Liberal Nationals would be interested in exploring the use of emerging technologies at a government level, including secure open source software and cloud computing.
The NSW Coalition’s plans to establish several new agencies have the potential to create procurement opportunities but also alter the way in which ICT is purchased within portfolios.
For example, the creation of an Integrated Transport Authority, which will provide centralised management for public transport services and encompass RailCorp, State Transit Authority and Sydney Ferries, has the potential to affect ICT procurement within the Transport portfolio.
The NSW Liberals have also indicated they will seek to establish a Public Service Commission, which will, as with all Machinery of Government changes, create new or additional ICT requirements.
Mr. Pearce has also suggested that the Liberal Nationals will aim to streamline procurement practices to ensure less cost and greater simplicity: ‘the current contracting and tender processes are widely considered to be too costly, too slow, poorly designed and poorly specified’.
The increasingly important role of ICT within government has been reflected in the Coalition’s inclusion of the information technology industry in its ‘Industry Action Plans (IAP’s) for High Potential and High Performance Industries’ initiative.
IAP’s will be issued for ‘high growth’ industries such as IT, examining ‘drivers for and barriers to growth and innovation in the sector, especially those caused by government practices’.
In keeping with the Federal Government’s position on open government, the Coalition will reform freedom of information laws and establish an Open Government Commissioner. ICT will play a central role in the review, with the establishment of a ‘one-stop’ online shop which will provide access to information from all NSW government agencies.
Intermedium will conduct an in-depth analysis of the ICT-related policies of the major parties at its upcoming NSW Pre Election and Half Year Executive Update Briefing at Rydges Hotel, Sydney, on 2 March 2011.