Cabinet paper endorses role of govt CIO

State Services Minister Jonathan Coleman says government ICT should be centrally led

The Cabinet has approved a range of recommendations to direct and fund the office of the Government CIO to drive better management of the government’s annual investment in ICT, in co-ordination with the head of the State Services Commission.

In a paper presented to Cabinet in September, but only released on December 20, the Minister of Internal Affairs, Chris Tremain, and State Services Minister Jonathan Coleman say that government ICT should be centrally led and collaboratively delivered.

“There needs to be a more coherent approach and more directive leadership from the Government CIO through greater standardisation and integration of government ICT,” they say.

The paper notes that DIA is underwriting some further investment, such as cloud implementation, from its balance sheet.

“However, that will not be enough to ensure the pace of change required if benefits are to be realised in a timely fashion,” the ministers say.

“To make real and immediate progress. . . the GCIO will need additional capability. This requires additional funding of $3 million in 2012/13 and $4 million in 2013/14 and out years.”

The development of new services and the pace of adoption of all-of-government ICT solutions has been constrained by persistent issues of fragmented decision making and the duplication of capability and systems, they say.

Cabinet had invited the Ministers of State Services and Internal Affairs to report to SEC by September 28 last year to address issues relating to the GCIO leading the reorganisation of ICT capability in the State Services, and funding for the GCIO.

The paper proposes that the GCIO and head of State Services be authorised to jointly specify when the adoption of new common capabilities will be mandatory for departments, subject to op-out processes where the benefits of common capabilities need to be traded off against individual agency imperatives.

Changes to the State Sector Act and the Crown Entities Act include providing the minister of Finance and the minister of State Services with the ability to support all-of-government approaches. “Assuming the legislation is passed, the GCIO expects to request that this authority be exercised to direct Crown entities to adopt common capabilities,” the ministers say.

Under “Improving investment management”, the paper notes that ICT solutions have a limited lifespan, and the cost of legacy system replacement is an ongoing concern.

“The combined investment intentions across State Services agencies create a ‘wall of obsolescence’ of existing ICT assets that cannot be fully funded through depreciation. There is a limited window of opportunity to work ahead of agency investment schedules and drive a significantly better outcome for government from the substantial investments to be made in coming years.”

The GCIO is to increase capacity to oversee centralised investment through the ICT Development Pipeline programme.

The next new common capabilities to be launched are a New Zealand Government Cloud business model, approved on August 20 and expected to offer savings of up to $82 million over 10 years for office productivity; and a common operating environment that will, subject to funding approval, assist 74 agencies to migrate from software that will no longer be supported from April 2014.

The Government Cloud programme is the only current initiative funded past the business case stage. There are 17 further proposals for new investments within the programme.

A Cabinet minute in October approves the recommendations.

Computerworld asked DIA and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment where cross-functional leadership applies.

DIA says in an email that it is the ICT functional leader, while MBIE is responsible for improving procurement practice and effectiveness across the wider state service, including schools.

“The crossover is most obvious around the procurement and provision of ICT-related goods and services,” a spokesman says.

“MBIE and DIA have a very close and collaborative operating model for cross-government ICT procurement initiatives, given their respective functional leadership roles. [They] are continually working together to enhance the coordination of the provision of services.”

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