Topics: ICT Strategy; Cloud; WA.
Western Australia could borrow New Zealand’s best ideas on ICT governance and New South Wales’s lead on citizen service delivery, if recommendations from a Legislative Assembly Public Accounts Committee report on best-practice ICT management are followed.
Tasked with determining how the WA public sector could better plan and manage its ICT investments, the inquiry focused on the work of the WA Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) – the agency responsible for ICT reform across the WA public sector.
While complimentary of the OGCIO’s progress to date, the Committee hopes to bolster its authority and secure its future beyond the 2017-2018 financial year.
The Committee raises concerns about the ability of only 15 permanent employees to implement effective Whole-of-Government ICT reform. These figures are low when compared with staff numbers in equivalent offices in New Zealand and Queensland – which have roughly 80 and 50 full time employees respectively.
The Committee recommends that the Office receives greater control of ICT decision-making in the state, suggesting that GCIO Giles Nunis screen all large ICT proposals before they are implemented.
The inquiry also found that “reforms are more effective when engaged leaders within the Executive branch of government drive the changes…” The Committee has therefore recommended the establishment of a Cabinet sub-committee for ICT investment based on a similar concept from New Zealand.
Recommendations also include making gateway reviews a default for IT projects valued at over $10 million. Although gateway reviews were introduced in the state in 2008, WA currently has no formal mandate around their application.
The report is clear that improvement is needed in the delivery of digital services, for example, stating that there are 450 government websites despite only 140 public entities. It acknowledges the planned Digital Services Portal, single payments gateway, and personalisation as measures to improve service delivery, however, it also recommends investigation of NSW’s ‘omni-channel’ one-stop-shop approach in Service NSW, which addresses a segment of customers who still wish to interact with government via traditional communication channels.
The Committee would also like to see WA adopt the ‘cloud-first’ mantra for future ICT investment, as used in several other jurisdictions. Although WA’s May 2016 WofG Cloud Policy “encourage[s] the widespread adoption of cloud services across the Western Australian Government”, the Committee feels this “relatively soft language” could be strengthened, as “some agencies will require stronger encouragement than others if they are to embrace the move to cloud”.
The Committee cites Intermedium’s Digital Government Readiness Indicator (DGRI) to highlight the state’s progress over the past 12 months. According to the DGRI, WA’s rate of improvement between July 2015 and July 2016 exceeded every other jurisdiction.
This improvement is largely the result of the Digital WA ICT strategy, released in May 2016, as well as the OGCIO’s GovNext-ICT Program, which will establish a consumption-based service model for the supply of computers, storage, cloud computing, and a unified government communications network by the end of 2018.
Nine agencies, which represent 80 per cent of the state’s ICT expenditure, have already signed up to the program, according to the report.
The government is currently undergoing final negotiations for the selection of GovNext-ICT program suppliers. The West Australian has named Datacom, NEC and Atos as the successful bidders, however a Department of Finance spokesperson told Intermedium that an announcement will not be made until approximately November 2016 following commercial negotiations.
A GovNext-ICT Service Broker is expected to be established by the OGCIO to oversee the program by the end of 2016. The report recommends that the OGCIO consider the New Zealand Government Chief Information Officer’s Commercial Strategy and Delivery Team for direction on structure and function of this body.