Is e-govt really so EZ?

E-government initiatives in New Zealand are a significant factor in sparking the interest of Atlanta, Georgia-based EzGov in establishing a 'south Pacific' presence.

E-government initiatives in New Zealand are a significant factor in sparking the interest of Atlanta, Georgia-based EzGov in establishing a “south Pacific” presence.

International operations vice-president Jeff Cummings and business development vice-president Joe Peterson paid a two-day visit to Wellington earlier this month to talk to government representatives, including e-government unit boss Brendan Boyle, and highlight the merits of EzGov's products and services. Cummings describes it as “our initial down-and-dirty assessment of the south Pacific market” in general, “but very focused on Australia and New Zealand”.

EzGov has a close partnership with EDS worldwide, while EDS (NZ), which provides the processing power for a lot of government IT, will want to wrap ExGov with other offerings of its own for a pitch to the New Zealand government or individual departments.

The core EzGov offering is based on standard modules for electronic forms, payment, identification and authorisation (including public key infrastructure) and business rules. Between these “bricks” there is plenty of “mortar” to handle the wide variety in the way governments and their departments do things, says Peterson. But the fit in the US and the UK, where EzGov has sold, is better than even the company expected, he says. “We thought the standard modules would typically handle perhaps 40% to 50% of a set of requirements, but it’s proved to be nearer 80%.”

E-government here has had some encounter already with the policy that the chief executive of each department has decisionmaking power over IT solutions; it had to offer a choice of three secure email packages (see All govt staff to get secure email).

The choice of applications can still be individual – part of the “mortar” – Cummings says. The “bricks” naturally respect “open standards” to which the applications can link.

There was some debate over whether the email products chosen by the e-government unit did adhere to the standards specified in requirements documentation and discussions.

Boyle says he had “general discussions” with the EzGov representatives. “We had an exchange of ideas, lining them up with where we’re going; but the bulk of the discussion was about what’s happening globally."

He too says while government agencies' applications will be individual, there is a role for “some generic templates".

“It’s reassuring to see that there are such [products] out there,” he says “They [EzGov] are an option for us, but clearly there are other contenders.”

EzGov – with bases in the US, the Netherlands and the UK – may establish an office in New Zealand after further visits.

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