IRD looks within for e-procurement ideas

E-procurement is not on the back burner, tax department says

Inland Revenue ICT chief Colin MacDonald discounts media suggestions that the department is putting e-procurement “on the back burner” at a time when IT minister David Cunliffe has identified it as a priority.

Rather, “we’ve decided to approach it in a different way,” using internal rather than external expertise to choose suitable software, he says. This will have the incidental effect of slowing down the process slightly, but he still expects the crucial internal “discovery” report, more clearly identifying IRD’s key business processes in the area, to be completed by July.

Originally, the department intended to call in an external partner to examine these business processes and identify appropriate software products, but “e-procurement is not exactly a new area and there are a lot of good case studies around,” both of successes and failures, he says.

In view of potentially heavy expenditure in the near future on other development, both legislatively inspired and internally deemed advisable, it was decided money could be saved by doing the e-procurement evaluation inhouse.

During his recent "state of the IT nation" address in Auckland, Cunliffe said he was committed to introducing improvements to government procurement processes so as to make it easier for smaller suppliers to take part. This was in line with a general theme of his address, that ICT had not been fully exploited among small businesses, particularly in improving their relations with government.

Inland Revenue is also significantly revising its general “e-enablement” approach, in view of the change in emphasis in e-government strategy, MacDonald says. In the latest revision of the strategy, emphasis was placed on “transformation” of processes using the internet.

“Our original strategy was to put our current services online in their existing form,” he says. In view of the e-government emphasis, IRD will now be designing services specifically for convenient use via the internet. This may involve combining some currently separate services or “presenting them in a different way”, he says.

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