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NSW Libs pledge ICT revolution

Shadow financial management minister, Greg Pearce, looks to Cloud computing in vision document ahead of forthcoming state elections

An incoming NSW Liberal government would establish a new ICT governance body and consulting committee with the private sector to provide advice on key projects, including potential migration to a Cloud computing model, if elected in March.

In a four-page vision document delivered to Computerworld Australia by a spokesperson for shadow financial management minister, Greg Pearce, the NSW MP outlined potential ICT policies that would be considered by a Liberal Government should it win state government on 26 March.

“The NSW Liberals & Nationals believe the NSW Government must respond to the challenge of a society which is increasingly horizontal: One in which government has lost its primacy over information and its dissemination,” Pearce wrote.

These would include a single, high-level body made up of ministers and department executives, accompanied by a consulting committee of private sector representatives to establish and maintain a whole-of-government ICT strategy.

The first order, he said, would be to explore replacing current plans to consolidate existing data centres under the Labor government in favour of a Cloud computing migration.

The body would also consider expansion of the data.nsw repository, changes to research and development incentives for the private sector, an ICT showcase, increased ICT job creation as well as changes to government ICT procurement and information security standards as outlined by the state Auditor-General last year.

Pearce used his vision document to slam existing practices and failed projects under the Labor government, but did not commit to reinstating any of the projects scrapped under Kristina Keneally’s government.

He said the move to put ICT “front and centre” of a NSW Liberal government would be aimed at regaining ICT industry strength lost in recent years to Victoria under initiatives of the former Labor government there.

Pearce’s commitment to fixing government ICT procurement - including shifting investment cycles to meet hardware life cycles rather than annual budgets - bears similarities to the forthcoming changes under Labor’s renewed Procure IT structure, which would keep ICT intellectual property with the supplier rather than government.

Pearce said he would keep an “open mind” regarding the National Broadband Network, but maintained hesitancy in backing the $36 billion project.

He made no mention of potential inclusion of an opt-out arrangement for the rollout of the network or whether a Liberal government would retain the state government-appointed NBN Coordinator, introduced by the current Labor Government to directly negotiate use of utility and other government-owned infrastructure during the network’s rollout.

Follow James Hutchinson on Twitter: @j_hutch

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

Tags NSW Liberal governmentICT policies2011 State ElectionGreg Pearce

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1 Comment

Mark Toomey

1

To be successful in governing IT in NSW, Barry O’Farrell will need to focus not merely on the SUPPLY of IT, but on its USE. Across all sectors of the economy, IT is now a tool of business and success comes not merely from having good tools, but from using those tools well. Thus, his proposed central IT decision-making body will need to ensure first and foremost that the business plans of NSW government agencies clearly and appropriately define the intended use of IT. Of course this means that the plans must also be informed of the potential for improved government service and operation through the effective use of IT.

With overall government strategy and individual agency strategy properly informed about the potential and clearly defining the intended use of IT, the O’Farrell team will then need to ensure that responsibility for successful delivery of IT-enabled change and the delivery of benefits associated with that change is also clearly and irrevocably assigned to agency heads. Agency heads cannot be permitted to abdicate responsibility and cannot be allowed to transfer accountability to junior managers or to external suppliers.

One tendency observed in other government jurisdictions that the O’Farrell team should watch for is the mutual tendency of bureaucrats to over-specify the tool, so that while in theory it can do everything, in reality it becomes so extreme in its complexity that it is at best extremely expensive to build in its entirety, highly prone to fault, almost impossible to test comprehensively, difficult and cumbersome to use and prohibitively expensive to maintain in an operational state. In the future, we may well learn to call this behaviour the 'MYKI Syndrome'.

AS/ISO/IEC 38500, the Australian and International Standard for Governance of Information Technology provides the high level guidance that the anticipated new NSW Government needs to establish appropriate arrangements for its ongoing direction and control of ICT use.

The Gershon Report and the follow-up Reinecke Report, both focused on the federal government, provide indelible lessons that should also inform Mr O’Farrell’s efforts

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