Technology procurement and service delivery is under the spotlight in New South Wales — with sweeping reforms under-way to streamline the way this State spends its annual US$2 billion (AUD$2 billion) ICT budget and delivers benefits to citizens and the industry.
Under a revitalised NSW Government ICT Strategy 2012, the State is moving to refine its blueprint for change – while catapulting core agencies to the forefront of technology-led initiatives.
The State’s lead agency, the Department of Finance and Services, is helping implement policy reforms, together with a team of policy architects. This team is led by William Murphy, Director, ICT Policy, Department of Finance and Services (NSW).
Murphy is currently charged with the direction and delivery of a “whole-of-NSW” government ICT strategy and policy. He joined the department in July 2011, and has worked across the NSW and Commonwealth public sectors for more than 15 years in senior regulatory, policy and strategy roles.
Murphy, who reports directly to the State’s Government Chief Information Officer, Michael Coutts-Trotter, says the latest reforms are the most comprehensive to date. The State’s two-year revitalisation strategy, starting in 2012, maximises the use of technology across agencies driving front-line service delivery programmes.
The NSW Government is Australia’s largest employer – hiring more than 300, 000 staff. Two hundred and forty seven key agencies deliver wide-ranging services, including education, transport, health, energy, housing, and water.
Agency-wide discussions have involved taking a closer look at whether the State’s procurement programme is delivering “value for money.”
“We need to move to a more agile step-by-step process, while simplifying contracting arrangements,” Murphy says.
Technology choices will be driven by agencies’ own needs – rather than being mandated by the government’s 2012 ICT Strategy.
“Each agency has a choice about which platforms to adopt,” notes Murphy. “The government’s overall strategy does not mandate which technologies to use. This strategy is not a technical guide. Rather, it offers a broader roadmap, to use as a point of reference.”
Under proposed changes, the State Government is opting for shorter contracts, while sourcing “low-risk, higher-value” products and services. “We need to move to a more agile step-by-step process, while simplifying contracting arrangements,” Murphy notes.
Among the changes, the NSW Government wants to make it easier for small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) to protect their intellectual property (IP) when pitching for business.
Current IP arrangements are restricting the capacity of the Australian SME industry to build its skills and capabilities. This is one area that needs addressing as the State redefines its technology and procurement models.
Plans are under-way to engage early on with the industry, track the latest technology offerings, and utilise cost-effective platforms to improve service delivery.
Among recent initiatives, industry stake-holders now have a “seat at the table” – while ensuring agencies are up-to-speed with technology developments. The current key suppliers to the NSW Government are SAP and Oracle.
Platforms under scrutiny include cloud computing, mobile communications, social media, and expanded use of portals and gateways to deliver services. However, the widespread use of cloud services will be influenced by privacy and security concerns — with plans to use a private cloud, before full-scale adoption in considered.
Full interview with William Murphy is featured in the next edition of FutureGov Magazine.
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