Topics: Data Analytics; Digital Transformation; Cloud; Procurement; Victoria.
The Andrews Government’s new Whole-of-Government ICT Strategy delivers some much-needed direction to the state — with a new data agency, ‘back office’ ICT reform, and Service Victoria among the state’s priorities over the next few years.
The 2016-2020 IT Strategy, released by Special Minister for State Gavin Jennings on 12 May 2016, is Victoria’s first since the long-expired 2014-15 IT Strategy. Like the previous strategy, there is a focus on cloud adoption and the release of government datasets.
The strategy also contains some new directives, including modernising the public sector workforce and up-skilling employees, and provides agencies with a clear order of consideration for ICT investment – 1) share, 2) cloud, 3) buy, and 4) build. “The development of bespoke systems will only occur rarely,” states the strategy.
The government is looking to address its poor track record of ICT project management with a suite of checks and balances introduced, including an IT projects dashboard and strengthening of the state's independent auditing program. The dashboard will indicate if an ICT project over $1 million is running behind schedule and over budget. It is expected to be in operation by July 2016.
ICT project management has been an ongoing concern for the state. Phase Two of an audit series released in March 2016 found six ICT projects that had suffered from delays and a combined cost blowout of $67 million. Of the six, the Department of Justice and Regulation’s Infringement Management and Enforcement System Project, which was first budgeted at $24.9 million and expected to be delivered in October 2009, received the most negative attention.
The new strategy will provide direction for the Victorian Government for the next five years, and will be refreshed annually.
Information and data reform
The government plans to further their open data agenda by standardising data formats and adopting a ‘single source of truth’ for personal data.
The state also intends to establish a new data agency to help the state design better services based on data findings. The data agency, perhaps taking inspiration from the Data Analytics Centre in New South Wales, will be particularly useful when addressing policy issues that cross portfolio boundaries. The government will first review and reform the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (VIC), and remove any legislative obstacles that might prevent the development of such an agency.
WofG digital service delivery
Once in operation, the long-awaited Service Victoria will serve as the cornerstone of the government’s ‘digital by default’ approach to delivering citizen services. The digital distribution channel, due for development in June 2016, is expected to improve delivery of “simple, high volume transactions”.
The strategy also plans to consolidate the government’s digital presence to ensure a consistent look-and-feel across all citizen-facing interfaces.
Public servants are expected to see changes in their day-to-day working experience, with the state intending to deliver a more modern, tech-driven workplace. “We want to be seen as an ‘employer of choice’ so that we attract and retain the best staff, for the benefit of all Victorians,” says the strategy.
The strategy places strong focus on lifting the “capability of government employees to implement ICT solutions that are innovative, contemporary and beneficial,” by up-skilling staff at all levels to make better purchasing and management decisions. This will include high-level training in modern management approaches that employ ‘agile’ project development, co-design and data analytics.
One of the government’s digital design principles – “Joined Together” – expects that digital offerings are integrated across agencies, with the intention of achieving better citizen services across the board.
The government will build on their cloud-first policy from the previous strategy, adopting a new project implementation system where sharing with other departments or units will take precedence.
“Where an existing solution does not exist, the order of consideration for an ICT investment will apply, with a cloud solution being considered next, or failing that, developing a new whole-of-Victorian-Government (shared service) solution based on commercial software...”
The new procurement approach intends to minimize the number of large, bespoke ICT projects that have caused problems for Victorian agencies in the past.
Furthermore, CenITex will be changed from a ‘reorganising body’ to an ongoing body under the State Owned Enterprises Act 1992, which is expected to offer the organisation increased stability and sense of direction.
The strategy has also responded to the burgeoning threat of cyber security, with plans to develop a cyber strategy and State Emergency Response in the pipeline.