The Victorian government will use cloud computing infrastructure and increase the use of shared services to deliver its new whole-of-government ICT strategy, according to the state's new chief technology advocate, Grantly Mailes.
Victoria named Mailes the state’s first chief technology advocate earlier this month. The title is in addition to his previous role as deputy secretary, innovation and technology for the Victoria Department of Business and Innovation.
The promotion followed the unveiling last month by the Victorian Coalition government of the state’s ICT strategy.
“The chief technology advocate role is to implement the ICT strategy,” Mailes said. The strategy’s focus is “service delivery to citizens and business, and internal service delivery around productivity to the public service,” he said.
Doing that in a cost-effective manner is critical, he said. “All governments in this country and all businesses globally are under cost pressure, and we’re no different.”
The Victorian Coalition government has repeatedly criticised the previous Labor government for what it says was overly high spending on ICT projects.
“We have had a number of projects that haven’t gone well and we need to rectify that,” Mailes said, “but the focus [of the ICT strategy] clearly is on service delivery and the productivity of the public service.”
To save costs, “we are using a number of delivery technologies that have not hitherto been available,” he said. “We are looking to cloud and similar services, and we are also looking to much more sharing of resources.”
Cloud “allows us to get much faster time to value,” Mailes said.
The state government’s eServices register is one example, he said. “Traditionally we would have gone to a developer and developed our own in-house solution,” he said. “What we’re doing now is doing the procurement process for cloud-based electronic marketplace services.”
“The solution exists in the cloud; we’re just subscribing to it.”
ICT resource sharing has already begun with line of business applications, particularly ERP, Mailes said.
Meanwhile, the state’s departments of Education and Primary Industries are providing payroll services for other state agencies, he said.
“We’re seeing these self-selecting clusters forming,” he said. “That’s absolutely in line with the ICT strategy we’re taking.”
The state seeks to reuse existing ICT infrastructure where possible, Mailes said.
“One of the filters on almost any new project will be, ‘Is there something somewhere else we can reuse?’ That will be the new normal.”
“If there’s something that’s not available to a reasonable specification, then we’ll look to cloud or some other ‘as-a-service’ product.”
The ICT strategy also includes a fresh look at ICT procurement, first proposed last August, including a revamped eServices Panel that promotes participation by small and medium-sized businesses.
“What we’re finding is that innovation isn’t necessarily limited to large firms or the firms we’ve been trading with, he said. “Our ambition is to get as wide a pool of innovation as possible.”
For the same reason, the pool won’t be limited to companies based in Victoria.
“We’re not going to be protectionist about it,” he said. “Our first test in government procurement is always around value for money.”
Mailes said Victoria will report early progress on the ICT strategy’s 50 action items in April.
One box already ticked is the launch of a new government website that uses responsive Web design and emphasising search. Also, the Vic government has published 300 sets of government data to its website, with plans to reach 1000 data sets by year's end, he said.
Before moving to Victoria, Mailes pioneered as the South Australian government’s first CIO. He said the biggest difference between the two states is “scale.”
South Australia’s overall state budget is $10-12 billion, whereas Victoria’s is nearly $50 billion. “There’s a five times difference in everything that moves, so it’s larger and more complicated.”
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