The new Victorian ICT Strategy demonstrates a commitment to digital reform across the public sector, with the assistance of industry and for the benefit of the community at large.
When the Hon. Gavin Jennings, Special Minister of State, released the Victorian ICT Strategy 2016-2020 recently, it signalled a new approach for using technology to improve the lives of Victorians. The Strategy also embeds clear directions in the way the government assesses need, purchases and implements ICT capability.
The Minister highlighted how lessons had been learnt from past mistakes and the need for renewed confidence in the government’s ability to make better use of the new digital world. Further, he emphasised the need to rethink systems, interactions, processes and skills to drive better policy and, in particular, better services and outcomes for Victorians.
To drive these better services and outcomes, the new Victorian ICT Strategy has four priority areas:
- Reforming how government manages and makes transparent its information and data,
- Seizing opportunities from the digital revolution,
- Reforming government’s underlying technology, and
- Lifting the capability of government employees to implement innovative, contemporary and beneficial ICT solutions.
Reforming the management and use of government data
The government will be implementing measures to ensure that there is better use, and better sharing, of data and information within the government itself — as well as ensuring appropriate data is opened up for external use, whether that be by business, for research or other uses. A new data sharing agency will be established to oversee these measures. This agency is expected to sit right at the heart of the government in the Public Sector Reform and Governance Branch within the Department of Premier and Cabinet.
The management and use of data is a critical area of priority for the government. As one example, improved data sharing between agencies is needed for the cross-agency implementation of the recommendations of the Family Violence Royal Commission — representing a systemic (and cultural) change. The opportunities offered by better management and sharing of data are endless.
Seizing opportunities from the digital revolution
The Victorian ICT Strategy also recognises that currently Victorians are not always able to interact with government in a way that is convenient, easy and always available. Improving and streamlining digital and mobile service delivery will be achieved by the development of a consolidated digital platform, Service Victoria, for a citizen-centric delivery of government services and transactions. Think of it as a one-stop digital shop for interacting with government, following a similar initiative in NSW. The aim is a rapid uplift of citizen’s digital engagement with government from the currently low base of 1%.
Reforming government technology
Implementing new technology solutions within the Victorian Government has proved challenging in the past. There have been many successful projects, but these have been overshadowed by the publicity surrounding some high-profile failures. With this in mind, the Strategy proposes a new approach that makes best use of previous investments, whilst leveraging new models of ICT service delivery.
The Victorian ICT Strategy lays out the Gartner ‘pace-layering’ approach, which recommends improvements in ICT capability be based on: small innovative pilot projects that provide business value, incremental change to agency-specific or differentiated systems where required, and maintaining and sharing common core systems as much as possible.
Recognising industry specialties, the Strategy goes on to identify: start-up or agile suppliers as best suited for this innovation layer, boutique or specialist suppliers for the systems of differentiation, and stable or proven suppliers for core corporate systems. This guidance from government to industry is central to building the partnership between industry and government needed to build ICT project capability.
The Strategy also gives clear guidance for future ICT investments to ensure value for money, flexibility in use, and quick return on investment. The priority will be to share existing solutions where possible. Where such a solution doesn’t exist, the order of consideration will be first a cloud solution, then an off-the shelf solution, and, as a last resort, build a bespoke solution.
ICT capability uplift
The fourth priority area for the government is the need to lift the ICT capability across the public service. The Strategy recognises that ICT underpins the business of government and the delivery of services to citizens, and is not just the responsibility of the IT Department.
Government employees need to have a level of knowledge and understanding of ICT relative to their role. Organisations need also to have proper governance, accountability and business oversight of ICT initiatives. The Strategy lays out a series of actions to build new skills, strengthen ICT project delivery, and improve governance and transparency of public sector ICT initiatives.
Industry involvement and opportunities
While the new Victorian ICT Strategy does not detail specific projects to be funded, it nonetheless lays the groundwork for future investments. It also lists key actions to be taken under each priority area over the next 12 months.
It seems there will be a lot of activity over the coming months as the government reviews plans and develops ‘Statements of Direction’ to guide future investments in areas such as financial systems, HR systems, identity management, cybersecurity, data storage, ICT procurement, cloud service standards, data networks, ICT governance education, ICT workplace environment, and other areas.
These provide areas of engagement and opportunity for not just the ICT sector, but also advisory and related services in HR, procurement, leadership, governance, training and coaching.
Any business interested in supporting government in areas of data, cybersecurity, ICT capability, project delivery, governance and the digital revolution must pay very close attention to this strategy and the key actions within it.
In the words of a senior government technology bureaucrat, ‘we won’t meet with industry unless they can demonstrate capabilities against the identified action areas’. Demonstrating a knowledge of the pace layering model described above, and the fit of your business within those layers, is also very important.
In summary, through this new ICT Strategy the Victorian Government is showing that it is committed to reforming the public sector and engaging with industry to create, in the words of the Minister, ‘good policy, good services and good outcomes for Victorians’. And, while internal capability uplift is a central theme, this cannot be achieved without the involvement of the private sector.
The ICT strategy can be downloaded from http://www.enterprisesolutions.vic.gov.au/it-strategy/
David Watt is a Senior Consultant at Mia. His successful track record working with government and leading teams selling into the public sector underpins his role building holistic government sales and marketing strategies for our clients. A nationally accredited mediator, David also heads up Mia’s Dispute Resolution and Negotiation services.