Federal Government outs draft five-year ICT strategy

Streamlined government processes to eradicate departmental borders for consumers

The Federal Government’s lead ICT procurement and coordination agency has prioritised delivery of better services, open engagement and the improvement of government operations as a means to improving use of ICT in Canberra.

In its five-year draft strategic vision released this week, the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) outlined the government’s future use of ICT, building on its ICT Reform Program and shifting the focus to productivity.

The paper pinpointed key tasks to be undertaken over coming years, including the use of fewer government websites, more streamlined service delivery and a continued priority of Government 2.0 initiatives, despite speculation the latter aspect could be hard hit in the forthcoming federal budget.

“ICT will increase public sector productivity by enabling the delivery of world leading government services for Australian people, communities and businesses, supporting open engagement to better inform decisions, and improving the operations of government,” the document reads.

The vision noted consumer-based technology as a key driver behind the adoption of new tools by government, including the increasing use of social media, mobile services, broadband and cloud computing. As a result, AGIMO noted it was required to meet the needs of the population by streamlining government processes and people’s interactions with Government.

“Fewer and simpler interactions with government will allow people and businesses to increase their productivity, and as a consequence, that of the nation. This aligns with the efforts of Government to reduce “red tape” in order to streamline government and business operations and service delivery,” the document reads.

This would include increased use of the australia.gov.au single sign-on portal, a service operated out of the Department of Human Services that has so far been limited to the department’s portfolio of Medicare, Centrelink and some smaller agencies. The department’s deputy secretary of ICT infrastructure, John Wadeson, has previously told Computerworld Australia that the federated login was unnecessary for most agencies, with the possible exception of the Australian Tax Office.

“Online services will be easier to access and use, personalised and consistent across government agencies,” AGIMO noted in its draft vision paper. “Agency boundaries will increasingly cease to be visible to people and business.”

However, Gartner e-government analyst Andrea Di Maio criticised the government’s continued use of a “one-stop-shop” approach to service delivery, labelling the method outdated and out of line with current use of social networks by consumers.

“It looks like the Australian strategy has gone through a form of compliance exercise, to make sure it does not look any different or any more exciting than those we have seen from other jurisdictions,” he wrote in a blog post following the strategy’s release

Though often using Australia as a leading example of Government 2.0 initiatives in a global setting, Di Maio labelled the vision a sign of the Australian Government “losing its edge”.

“While there are references to the importance of sharing skills and knowledge, the section on collaboration mentions exclusively targeted consultation that government would conduct with constituents. Engagement is seen as an institutional objective rather than a means for employees to get their job done,” he wrote.

Among other initiatives, AGIMO also proposed increased Government 2.0 initiatives, including developing whole-of-government standards for location information – a capability found wanting by mash-up developers – as well as a greater ability to capture and release government data for use by the public and within departments.

However, the agency noted the possible financial strains of such initiatives.

“Continuing fiscal constraint will require the Government to make the most effective use of existing and new ICT investments,” the report reads. “Better understanding how policy implementation influences technology decisions will help achieve greater value. The Vision encourages greater innovation in government operations, to enable cost effective solutions.”

With James Hutchinson

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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Tags GartnerGovernment 2.0Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO)

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