More cloud, but not all cloud, WA govt says

Western Australia launches first whole-of-government ICT strategy

Western Australian agencies will boost their use of cloud services under an ICT strategy for the state released yesterday, but the WA government says it isn’t adopting a “cloud-first” approach.

The document states that “first preference will be to reuse or adapt existing systems if suitable.”

“Agencies should evaluate cloud and other pay-as-you-go options for all new or redeveloped ICT services and projects,” the document states.

“Any decision to use cloud services should be based on the merits of the solution as it relates to an agency’s risk appetite, security requirements, operational needs, and value for money.”

However, the document notes that “a subscription-based cloud service that meets the needs of the business will be preferred over buying new hardware or software.”

WA last year appointed Giles Nunis to the role of government CIO. Nunis was tasked with developing the state’s first whole-of-government ICT strategy.

The state government last year began making moves towards increasing its consumption of as-a-service IT through its GovNext_ICT program. The program is intended to save up to $650 million over 10 years.

“Whole-of-government contracts for data centres, cloud and network services will be established under the GovNext_ICT program,” the strategy states.

“Significant savings will come from consolidating into a smaller number of secure data centres, moving to a greater use of consumption charged scalable infrastructure, and by interconnected networks that will allow staff and systems to connect seamlessly between agencies, and across the state.

“This initiative is intended to deliver a significant proportion of the Strategy’s intended savings for agencies, as current expenditure in the areas targeted makes up approximately 40% of government ICT costs.”

Already agencies representing some 80 per cent of the WA public sector by size have committed to the GovNext_ICT program.

WA Police and the Department of Education are functioning as lead agencies for GovNext_ICT. Support agencies comprise the Department of Transport, Main Roads WA, Public Transport Authority, Department of Corrective Services, Department of the Attorney General, Department of Health and the Department of Finance.

The 2016-2020 ICT strategy —Digital WA — outlines a number of high-level goals, including boosting access to digital services in WA, increasing mobility for frontline service providers, opening up more data for use by the private sector, and streamlined procurement.

The government is aiming to have three quarters of financial and information service transactions with the public conducted through digital channels by 2020, the strategy states.

“Imagine having secure and relevant state government services available through a single web portal anywhere, anytime and on any device — your computer, mobile phone or tablet — without the need to attend or call a government office," said WA innovation minister Bill Marmion.

“From simply paying bills online to obtaining the latest information and data on everything government that matters to you, that is the Digital WA promise once fully implemented.”

The release of the strategy comes on the heels of a state audit office report that found significant shortcomings when it came to making WA government services available online.

“WA lags behind best practice in making government services available and easy to use online,” the report stated.

“In the absence of centralised leadership, agencies have generally not seen the move to online delivery as a priority despite increasing customer demand and available efficiencies.”

The appointment of a GCIO should help to address the situation, the report stated.

Moving half of WA’s phone and mail transactions online could save the government more than $2.2 billion over 10 years, the report estimated.

Digital WA: Western Australian Government Information and Communications Technology Strategy 2016-2020 is available from the WA GCIO website (PDF).

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