Prime Minister John Key says government IT is “light years away” from where it could be compared to the private sector.
Speaking during the opening of Datacom’s new datacentre in Albany, Auckland, Key said his comments were inspired by a visit to University of Canterbury’s NZI3 ICT centre, a public-private partnership.
“They were showing me a couple of companies operating in the incubator. The companies were effectively online, high definition, video conferencing. It was absolutely amazing.”
Key says he is trying to put something similar in government at the moment, albeit with some challenging systems.
“You sit there and say the core bureaucy in Wellington is just under 50,000 people. They travel extensively and have requirements all over New Zealand. You imagine how much we could cut our travel bill if we just started using online video conferencing more effectively.”
He says his observation of Parliament after six and a half years is there are “well meaning people in there who provide tremendous services.”
But to improve productivity, Key says getting on top of the IT requirements for government should be a priority.
Key compared fast food restaurant McDonald's with the NZ Police.
“If you want to head off to McDonald's, when you get in that queue a nice young person comes up to you with a handheld device and says `what do you want to eat’. By the time you get to the front all you have to do is pay.”
However, he says if you get a ticket from a police officer in New Zealand for going too fast on the motorway, it’s a different story.
“The officer gives you that ticket, goes back and faxes stuff, and writes a manual report.”
If you think of the transformation that could happen in government from the IT sector, huge gains could be made.”
Key also mentioned what Air New Zealand, which is 80% government-owned, has done with mobile ticketing.
“They’re on top of it in their technology and that’s where the world is going.”
He says proper internet service is a crucial component.
“The government is playing its part, we’re putting a billion and a half dollars into the roll out of fibre to the home. The private sector is going to step up, we now has over a 100 submissions backing our fibre programme.”