App development centre report due

Faster progress on public-private cooperation in the development of e-government applications will depend on a change to the process of awarding public IT contracts.

Faster progress on public-private cooperation in the development of e-government applications will depend on a change to the process of awarding public IT contracts.

The Information Technology Association (ITANZ) is promoting a plan to establish an e-government application development centre. The centre would create applications for New Zealand government use, with a view to also selling them overseas. A feasibility study report will be circulated to the ITANZ executive this week.

ITANZ head Jim O’Neill says coming up with a new procurement process for government IT projects will be a key step in getting the centre off the ground.

“The report goes into the validity or not of commercialisation of government processes,” O’Neill says.

Report author Joseph Rousseau says the cost of bidding for government contracts can be up to 20% of the development price. Reducing that cost and accelerating the RFI-RFP process will require commitment from state sector chiefs.

“Government managers must be keen on it,” he says.

State Services minister Trevor Mallard discussed the proposal with ITANZ officials in May, he told Computerworld.

Asked whether the plan deserves government backing, Mallard said support has already been provided in the form of a $100,000 grant to pay for the feasibility study.

He has talked about the plan to State Service Commission officials.

“I am also aware that e-government board representatives met with ITANZ members to discuss the concept on May 27,” Mallard says.

In the interim, one of those officials, SSC e-government unit head Brendan Boyle, has accepted a new post, as chief executive of Land Information New Zealand (LINZ).

O’Neill doesn’t see that as a setback, but thinks it could be advantageous.

“LINZ is a relatively innovative department,” O’Neill says, and could be the source of the kinds of applications that have overseas sales potential.

ITANZ envisages the centre enabling local developers to collaborate on public projects, with multinational IT vendors selling the resulting applications in foreign markets.

“What the centre approach will do is make engagement between industry and government more transparent,” O’Neill says.

Mallard wouldn’t be drawn on whether he would like the SSC to urge state agency heads to support the centre.

“I will await the completion of the feasibility study and consider options at that stage.”

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