[LINK] Minor Revolution in Australian Government IT

Tom Worthington Tom.Worthington at tomw.net.au
Tue Feb 5 09:53:01 EST 2008

Greetings from CIO City Summit in Sydney 
<http://www.csgi.com.au/events/cio/>. Patrick Callioni 
<http://www.agimo.gov.au/about/executive/patrick_callioni> opened the 
event talking about changes to IT in Australian be announced by 
Lindsay Tanner MP, Minister for Finance and Deregulation at the 
National Press Club in Canberra tomorrow <http://www.npc.org.au/>. 
However, much of this appeared on the front page of the Financial 
Review and in other papers this morning, stealing some of his thunder 

I am on at 2pm talking about 2008 being a tipping point for IT to 
move to thin client/server systems "A Watershed for the Networked 
The  of "watershed" is unfortunate, as Sydney is having floods.  ;-)

Essentially the revolution is government agencies cooperating and 
with state and local governments. To some extent at the federal level 
this will be by more regulation that requests. At the state and local 
level the federal government will have to rely on good will, as there 
is little scope for increased funding for state government projects.

Patrick talked about the Australian Government's strategies and 
architectures. These are publicly available 
<http://www.agimo.gov.au/government>, but I suspect many did not take 
them seriously. He also talked about the shortage of IT people and 
the need for universities to keep the ability to train during IT 
downturns. The government also has an IT apprentice scheme.

The Australian Government's web sites will be rationalized and IT 
spending will be subject to more central control. Some of this could 
be relatively easy to use and uncontroversial. For example the whole 
of government search engine seems to work okay. Agencies can 
customize the look and function of the central facility. Patrick said 
that there will not be warehouses of centrally purchased computers 
becoming obsolete before they are issued. The emphasis will be more 
on rationalization of the back end of systems, with shared systems 
"Why should agencies have financial systems configured differently, 
when they are subject to the same financial regulations?".

The government has 850 web sites. One objective is to have an 
integrated view across government, including state and local 
government. There will be an online front end for government, for 
citizens to manage their relations with government. By December 2008, 
citizens will have the option of an account on Australia.Gov.AU, to 
give access to services. This will be voluntary and optional. But it 
will provide a way for citizens to log on once and then do business 
through multiple agencies. This will then be offered to state and 
local governments. One service which is likely through the system 
early on is eTax from the ATO. Later there will be a central message 
box for messages from government. Australia Post might provide an 
authentication service for documents: citizens would have Australia 
Post certify electronic versions of important documents (such as a 
marriage certificate) as being genuine, so that the electronic copy 
could be presented to agencies.

Some of this sounds ambitious, in particular working with state and 
local governments and e-document validation. However, even if AGIMO 
only manages to integrate government web sites a little more and 
rationalizes back ends a bit, this will make a significant 
improvement is services to citizens and some saving in government costs.

ps: I should declare my interest, as I am helping write a report on 
the future of broadband for AGIMO.

ps: To be green, I caught the tram to the conference at Star City 

Tom Worthington FACS HLM tom.worthington at tomw.net.au Ph: 0419 496150
Director, Tomw Communications Pty Ltd            ABN: 17 088 714 309
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617                      http://www.tomw.net.au/
Adjunct Senior Lecturer, ANU  

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