Thursday, March 06, 2008

ICT for Government

The plenary session after lunch at the ACS Canberra Branch Conference was by Ann Steward, Australian Government Chief Information Officer on a "ICT in Government - The Way Forward". Whereas Senator Conroy talked in the morning broadly about programs for the community, Ann's brief is to support and guide those delivering ICT within government agencies. She provided a detailed summary of how ICT is to be done in support of the new government.

Previously AGIMO could only offer gentle guidance to agencies about their ICT strategies. With the change of government, AGIMO can have more of a say with agency projects, but still emphasizes consulting and guidance, rather than enforcement.

Ann mentioned that FedLink will come to tender shortly. ICON, the internal system used across government will also progress.

AGIMO is working on templates and patterns, structures and standards. AGIMO's business reference model will be in the next APSC State of the Services Report.

The acronyms used by AGIMO can get a bit bewildering, but thankfully most are standards ones used around the world (an example is SOA: Services Oriented Architecture). With AGIMO exclusive ones, there is usually a quick summary and detailed report on the AGIMO web site.

One success at a practical level has been the search facility which agencies can choose to use. Something which will be much harder to do is to create a single sign-on for clients of agencies. this is being done with the Australian Government Online Service Point and the delivery of online services. Rather than just do these sort of initiatives and hope for the best, user satisfaction surveys have been used to see what is working and is wanted.

The latest annual survey, due out soon, shows that the number of people contacting the government using the Internet at least once in the year was up from 20% to 59% from the year before and 25% use the Internet for most of their contact with government. Ann made a plea for agencies to look to coordinate information channels, including mobile and web.

AGIMO is working with DIISR on simplification of government forms and with Centerlink on authentication of clients. Also there is GovDex, which provides an online environment for government people to coordinate such work.

Ann mentioned ICT skills and the needs of government. One example is the ICT Apprenticeship Program. This was a pilot program in 2007 and has been launched last week for 2008, with 51 apprentices in 15 agencies. Not all the apprentices are young and more are needed. Ann described the fact that there were only one or two females amongst the apprentices as "unacceptable". There is a female mentoring program which may address this.

The PM is leading by example with a "citizen centric" approach to government.

In addition agencies need to work on business continuity, as with the e-security national agenda. Agencies need common agreed protocols in the event of disruption to services, such as telecommunications.

Ann said that agency based procurement does not necessarily result in the possible bulk savings. There may be more coordinated procurement for areas other than where it has been done with telecommunications.

AGIMO will participate in CEBIT Australia in May 2008 in Sydney.

See also from AGIMO:
My own take on AGIMO work:

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