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Quest continues for holistic solutions: the initiative aims to create an e-government network to provide information flow and collaboration between stakeholders

National ICT Australia (NICTA) is urging federal and state government CIOs to take advantage of its "inspired research outcomes" and research-based innovative technologies in the e-government space.

Program leader, Empirical Software Engineering Research Program for NICTA's E-Government Initiative Professor Ross Jeffery says the e-government project established in January this year is about providing "holistic solutions" to the challenges in the area. Jeffery, who gave a keynote at the e-government forum at CeBIT earlier this month, says the e-government project brings together the government agencies, industry, researchers and educators in its quest for solutions.

"The message is to take advantage of the NICTA e-government initiative to provide more efficient and effective e-government activities in Australia, particularly within the government agencies.

"Agencies [who reach out] get access to our research based innovative technologies. What we're bringing to the table in the e-government space is some key research expertise in software engineering, in information systems, and also in a set of what we call enabling technologies. These are technologies around the areas of knowledge representation, technologies around the areas of logic, technology around spatial representation technologies, and also semantic manipulation and definition, so this is to do with data," he told CIO magazine.

"This is work that we are doing and have been doing."

The initiative is focused on providing benefit-oriented e-government for industry and citizens. Its customers include federal and state agencies and ministries, IT companies working in the public sector and communities and community clusters.

With a staff of three based in Canberra and a further 20 staff across NICTA, the initiative's mission is to be an enduring world-class information and communications technology research institute that generates national benefit. It seeks to focus its research efforts toward areas of importance to Australia, conduct research to the highest standards of excellence and provide NICTA researchers with world-class research facilities and equipment.

Jeffrey says the value proposition it brings to CIOs within government agencies is fourfold. First, it offers a wide range of competencies in various research domains; second, it offers neutrality in the sense that it does not represent any particular corporation or sales force; third, it is active in the world of standards, which are important in the government sector, and fourth it bring internationality in the sense that the agency is very well connected with the other e-government initiatives around the world.

"In terms of the value proposition, we offer things that probably no the organization can offer. The key focus of the NICTA e-government initiative is on the processes and the systems within government when they try to establish benefit for business and for citizens. But we are focused very much on the processes and systems inside the government, so our aim really is a business process improvement through what we call a controlled deployment of software, methods, and of system tools."

As well as inspired research outcomes Jeffrey says the initiative aims to create an e-government network to provide information flow and collaboration between stakeholders. It is also looking to achieve industry-wide educational outcomes through research, training, professional development and specialized award courses in e-government.

It is also building international linkage with research institutes in e-government, with a current partnering with the German e-government initiative an example.

"Finally a longer term objective is to facilitate the establishment of a national institute for e-government research. Once we can get the network together, once we can show the result of the use-inspired research, once we can put the educational programs together, then eventually we will push for a national institute for e-government research, because we think it is this important to Australia," he says.

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