'Innovation' the buzzword for govt ICT council

Council chair joins Internal Affairs minister and DIA CEO at launch of ICT roadmap

Innovation is the primary purpose of the Government ICT Council, says the council’s chairman, Sam Knowles.

He was addressing a large audience at the launch of the Government ICT Roadmap. Attendees included departmental chief executives, their CIOs and senior ICT industry executives.

It was emphasised that the roadmap is not a blueprint; rather, the council expects to review it every quarter.

Innovation, collaboration, participation was the mantra of the three speakers: Knowles, Department of Internal Affairs Minister Nathan Guy, and DIA chief executive and Government CIO Brendan Boyle.

Knowles says the council proposes to set up a range of capability groups.

“Our biggest task is to fund sustainable collaborative models,” he says.

The focus would be in three areas:

  • Improving access to government for people and business (“We already know that tomorrow is about mobile.”).
  • Defining and reusing authorative data (on interoperable platforms).
  • Unifying communications and networking.
  • Building operational foundations (infrastructure as a service, and common software, and cross-government agreements).

The latter is a step to all-of-government cloud services, Knowles says.

The council was working on seven investment cases, he says, but didn’t define them.

It was also looking at process improvement.

Guy says the Government wants independent oversight of large projects (the annual Government ICT spend is around $2 billion). He says that in the past, they sometimes took years, to the point that the problem became outdated.

The Government was seeking value for money, timelines, and how it could exit efficiently if a project was not delivering.

He says the initial focus will be on common capability, networks and infrastructure, interoperability, and sharing business systems.

“We’re asking for early engagement with vendors.”

He announced Open Door to Innovation, an outside-in approach that seeks to harness market innovations to improve government ICT investment. Open Door will be trialled for 12 months, and is a standing invitation for proposals from companies “with a proven and developed product”.

Commenting on the announcements, NZ Rise co-chairman Don Christie says it was in some ways pretty light on details.

“Basically, it’s abandoning a rigid procurement process. We would like to hear more and to influence the common ICT capability.”

NZ Rise represents New Zealand vendors. “Our purpose is to make doing business with Government easier for SMEs and to build up local capability,” Christie says.

The word “innovation” was used widely by all presenters. Christie asks at what point will New Zealand companies get paid for sharing innovative “stuff”?

“It’s not something smaller New Zealand companies can do for free.”

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