Providers question govt ICT map's viability

Government Technology Service promotes its 'common capability roadmap'

The Government Technology Service is facing a hard task in drawing the threads of government agencies’ ICT needs together in a “common capability roadmap”.

Some members of the audience at a presentation to the New Zealand Computer Society by GTS chief architect Brian More last week in Wellington questioned that it can ever be done, without disadvantaging some of the agencies with allegedly common requirements.

Each group of ITC needs, as defined in the roadmap, will have a lead agency to guide the evolution within the roadmap to satisfy those demands, says More. However, delegates see difficulty in preventing the specific needs/demands of the lead agency from distorting the common direction and compromising the satisfaction of other agencies’ different requirements.

The overall aim of the roadmap is to achieve the priorities of government departmentscomputing and communication needs, which include increased data sharing, integrated service delivery and improvement in overall efficiency and effectiveness.

More says the exercise can be compared to fitting Lego blocks together, pointing out that Lego is manufactured in different sizes (an analogy for the needs of different-sized agencies) but is designed so they all fit together.

“As a non-lead agency, how do I ensure my Lego blocks get into the bucket?” asked one delegate. More’s response was that such an agency should engage with the lead agency for that project and contribute a member to the committee dealing with the relevant evolving “common capability”.

However, he acknowledges some of the detailed mechanisms to run the roadmap have not been firmed up yet. “Some things are progressing quite a lot, but there is some stuff that still needs to happen to support [the process], to make it really work properly,” he says.

And he makes no secret of the fact that time is getting short; the Department of Internal Affairs is running on a fixed schedule, obliging it to progressively take over more all-of-government ICT functions in the next few months.

Providers need make no major change in their interaction with government, More says; agencies will still put out the standard request for proposal and tender documents, which will be handled in the same way; only within government the content of the proposals would be better coordinated with one another.

“There’s one thing missing here,” says Nick Rowney of developer 3months.com; “that’s people. One size does not fit all people. If one agency starts telling another what to do, there are people involved in that who are going to say: ‘actually, this doesn’t work for me’ and you’ll have a blockage in the roadmap.”

“It's early days yet,” was More's reply; “transformational and cultural change are required.” That, he says, is why leadership and effective governance are among the first priorities on the roadmap.

Another attendee asked whether and when DIA will mandate the IPv6 internet protocol in government, given the obvious need for consistent communication among agencies. More replied that IPv6 has already been built into standards for all-of-government ICT. DIA has also built a website to promote the protocol to public-sector agencies.

While there are no plans to set a date for IPv6 adoption, there is a “piece of work” in train to encourage it, More says. “Awareness must come first.”

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