Facing a looming deficit, the ACT Government is counting on its home-grown IT infrastructure service provider InTACT to deliver a major efficiency dividend.
And InTACT General Manager Michael Vanderheide says he is confident centralization efforts currently under way will see InTACT achieve just that.
The ACT Government's budget, released last month, foreshadows IT savings of $1 million in FY2005-6 and $4 million in FY2006-7 from the centralization program, which will see many more whole-of-government IT services brought under the InTACT umbrella.
Vanderheide says the centralization is the most significant change that the ACT government has seen in IT since InTACT's creation in 1996. InTACT currently provides infrastructure to the ACT's more than 17,000 public servants, but until now responsibility for applications and local IT administration has remained within each department and agency. With InTACT's expertise continuing to grow, particularly in delivery of shared services, the government is taking the opportunity to bring agency-based IT staff into a merged IT organization with the existing InTACT staff.
"We'll see InTACT change from an infrastructure organization of about 240 staff and (a budget of) $74 million to an organization somewhere approaching 400 staff and probably $120 or $130 million," Vanderheide says. "It's a great change, I'm really excited about it, and we're at the very beginning - the budget came out a couple of weeks ago."
InTACT operates on a full cost recovery basis with a focus on cost reduction and maintaining appropriate levels of investment, rather than on making a profit.
Its infrastructure includes almost 500 servers, two computer centres, 820 network switches and routers, whole of government voice and data networks, high speed Internet connectivity, three whole of government applications, 1500 local applications and 19 terabytes of data. It is rolling out an integrated communications architecture and will have implemented IP telephony for all customers by the end of 2005.
The agency currently managed three whole of government systems that are used across all ACT government agencies: PERSPECT, Oracle Government Financials and RAPS (receipting and payments system). It has also been working closely with the Chief Minister's Department to enable transition to a new Human Resource Systems Solution to replace PERSPECT.
Vanderheide says under the new centralized model, IT staff working in agencies will stay close to the business areas they currently support, but will become part of a much larger IT organization.
"Instead of existing in relatively small or in some cases very small silos within individual agencies or departments, they'll have the professional development and support of peers, with access to skills," Vanderheide says.
"We'll have the opportunity over time to allocate resources more based on whole of government priority. And what we intend to do again over time is apply some of the disciplines that are currently in place in some of the infrastructure space, around consistency in and using our ability to scale, around the application space. So rather than having six individual departments or going out and buying software separately from each other, we'll go in on their behalf, get a better price because of the economies of scale, and we'll offer to manage the contract for them which we expect will be a much more efficient way to operate.
"I see it as an extension of what we started in 1996. InTACT itself has been operating a successful shared services model for almost eight years now so in a sense we're building on the experience that we've gained from running InTACT. While it is a very significant change, we are taking it relatively slow and steady because things sort of work now, they just don't work efficiently or as cost effectively as they could. I think we are going to see some real improvements there," he says.
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