The New Zealand e-government unit looks likely to continue backing both horses in the government IT centralisation-versus-independence debate, which is emerging in the Australian Federal Parliament.
The secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Max Moore-Wilton, last week released a report on Australia’s “ICT Investment and Governance Framework”, suggesting the government’s IT investment, currently $A3.5 billion, be centralised for lower cost and to facilitate use of new technologies such as web services and grid computing across the whole of government. But it, like the New Zealand approach, is not being promoted as a return to absolute central control.
The report says “a federated approach to ICT governance in the Commonwealth is warranted where whole-of-government interoperability is an issue or a whole-of-government approach may be beneficial”, though it suggests individual agencies continue to manage their own information technology strategy, development, implementation and support.
Chief executive of the National Office of the Information Economy John Rimmer said last week that new applications associated with distributed computing, web services and grid computing would need to be adopted across government, rather than only by individual agencies.
A number of the objectives identified as stepping stones to the goal, such as increased attention to interoperability, consistent secure email and a cross-departmental committee structure, have already been implemented in some form by the New Zealand e-government unit.
E-government unit head Brendan Boyle says: “We [the e-government unit] have developed a series of standards — for example, meta data and interoperability — that have been made compulsory for government agencies. A whole of government approach does not necessarily mean a ‘one size fits all’ solution.
“There may be some non-negotiable standards [such as those mentioned above], some categorised as guidelines or good practice and other areas where decisions are best made at an agency level to meet business and customer needs.”