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SA follows NSW down innovation path

by Justin Hendry •
Free resource

The South Australian Government is developing an Innovation Strategy to complement its current Whole-of-Government (WofG) ICT Strategy, and is considering rationalising its ministerial responsibilities to position the state as a leading player in Australia’s digital economy.

Both mechanisms are flagged as recommendations in a recent report by the Redfire Consulting Group, which has been prepared as an implementation plan for government to tackle the administration and policy issues considered to impede innovation. 

It recommends the creation of an innovation policy “for the development, implementation and management of a long-term strategy to support early stage innovation.”

A spokesperson from the Department of the Premier and Cabinet has since told Intermedium that the Innovation Strategy will be in addition to the November 2013 ICT Strategy – SA Connected. “The Innovation Strategy being developed by Government will complement SA Connected, with a broader focus on innovation throughout the State.”

The report suggests that responsibility for the innovation policy should sit with a single minister and within a ministry solely responsible for Science, Information and the Information Economy, to “enable Government to adopt a consistent and integrated innovation policy and more effectively communicate with, and respond to, the market.” This is instead of having responsibilities split between the DPC and the Department of State Development, which can “create confusion in the private sector.”

“Currently South Australia’s innovation policy is designed, implemented and administered in a disaggregated structure involving multiple Government departments,” the report states.

The report recommends that the policy should be developed by the minister and a new independent and centralised innovation agency to be established by government – AccelerateSA.

“Establishing an innovation agency (AccelerateSA) and innovation policy is critical to creating the foundational base for Government support, its capacity to evolve policy and measures and to collaborate and communicate with the innovation ecosystem.”

In response to the report, Premier Jay Weatherill said growth through innovation is one of the government’s 10 Economic Priorities and that the government “will be considering our response to the recommendations in this report in the lead up to our State Budget in June.”

The spokesperson didn’t comment on whether a formal update to SA Connected would be released this year, but instead said that the “strategy is reviewed regularly to ensure it reflects contemporary practice and supports agencies as they adopt digital services that improve both internal practices and services provided to the broader community.”

This is fitting with the current strategy, which indicated that the strategy would be constantly amendable and adapt as the technology landscape changes, under the governance of the ICT Board.

The NSW Government is also in the process of developing an innovation strategy, which is expected to be released in May. Unlike SA, NSW’s innovation strategy will replace the government’s existing WofG ICT Strategy, less than six months after the release of Digital +2016.

A position paper of the collaborative economy has already revealed NSW’s intention to “apply collaborative economy principles to its own [procurement] activities where appropriate…”, echoing Digital + 2016, which commits to ongoing procurement reform between 2015 and 2018. 

SA current ranks fourth on Intermedium’s Digital Government Readiness Indicator, behind NSW, Queensland and the federal government.

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