Citizens approach portal

New Zealand's e-government portal could be before the public's fingertips by next month.

New Zealand’s e-government portal could be before the public’s fingertips by next month.

The e-government unit is putting the portal through “significant stress-testing” this week, preparatory to formal sign-off by the portal steering committee and State Services Minister Trevor Mallard over the next two weeks or so.

After earlier problems with the per-formance of the search engine, the portal is going very well, says unit spokesman Edwin Bruce. Last week it was scheduled to be “put through internal stress-testing, by subjecting it to many times its anticipated normal workload. It will then go to agencies, who will throw everything they’ve got at it.”

The portal’s performance figures are scheduled to be put before the steering committee, consisting of the chief executives of Inland Revenue, Customs, Education and Statistics and “a few other experts”, says Bruce.

If the committee approves, “we’ll put it before the minister and ask ‘when do you want to release it?’ ”

Small updates have been made since the portal’s last public airing, at August’s Govis conference, Bruce says. There have been slight changes in design to reduce the number of clicks a user has to make, fuller integration of local government content and the filling of some gaps in agencies’ metadata.

Since mid-year agencies have been able to examine their own metadata on line, and this has brought some changes, Bruce says.

The arrival of the portal has been looked to as a major signal of progress in New Zealand e-government, likely to bring a rise in the ranks of international government automation surveys, where New Zealand has been sinking.

The best-known of these surveys is conducted by consultancy Accenture. The organisation no longer has a New Zealand presence, but a spokesman for the company in Sydney confirms it intends to keep New Zealand in its annual study. The next set of results is due in March or April.

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