Local supplier Silverstripe wins all-of-govt web contract

UPDATE 11AM: More than 30 suppliers involved in common platform

Wellington-based developer SilverStripe has won the contract to provide a single web platform for government agencies.

A common platform will enable government departments to share and reuse website features. This will improve consistency and efficiency and lower costs, says Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain.

The common capability is expected to achieve savings of $50,000 per web project procurement. “On its own it’s not a big amount,” Tremain says, “but when spread over the whole of government we’re looking at estimated savings of over $500,000 per year.”

“Another New Zealand company, Revera, will manage technical infrastructure, using the government’s Infrastructure as a Service,” he says.

The contract fits within a broader all-of-government “common web services” (CWS) push, which has brought other deals to set up a supplier panel.

More then 30 suppliers are involved one way or another in CWS, some of them also NZ-owned.

Agencies are “strongly encouraged” to participate in the common web-services initiative, says a backgrounder page on CWS, but participation is voluntary. The detail of CWS can be read here.

The current contract covers “basic information display websites” which do not require large levels of integration with government databases, said last year’s announcement. But this will include such interactive features as form-filling, says Bene Anderson, one of the DIA team working on the CWS; “that’s seen as basic these days.”

SilverStripe’s involvement means the platform is based on open-source code and agencies will be encouraged to share any code they develop for their own needs, either within government or more widely if they wish; but such sharing will remain at each agency’s discretion.

“The only way we’ll get real benefit out of this platform is if the agencies build things of value on top of it,” says Silverstripe CEO Sam Minnee. “We look forward to working with them and really making this a great story for years to come.”

Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown, emphasises that the platform is open to local as well as central government agencies. This means potential to save money for ratepayers as well as “delivering a much better, more interactive service,” she says.

Silverstripe and Revera exemplify the companies that are making a contribution to the “new economy of Wellington” and its reputation as the “smart capital”, says Wade-Brown.

Tremain emphasises what “great news” it is that a substantial part of the Government Common Web services project is being handled by New Zealand companies.

This statement comes at a time when award of major government ICT contracts to overseas providers, such as the Inland Revenue transformation project by CAP-Gemini and Talent2’s Novopay, is a persistent theme in Computerworld’s comment streams.

“In trying to establish collaboration and leadership in [government] ICT, we have to look on both a national and international basis for the very best systems that are out there,” Tremain says.

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