Skip to Content

You are in the Finance archive | Archive Home Page | Return to the Finance homepage | Contact Us

The Department of Finance Archive

The content on this page and other Finance archive pages is provided to assist research and may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. See the full archive disclaimer.

Finance seeks your feedback on draft ICT Strategic Vision

Author: 
ictvisionsecretary
Category: 

As Chair of the Secretaries’ ICT Governance Board, I am pleased to release today the draft 2011 ICT Strategic Vision for comment and feedback:

The draft Vision outlines a long term plan for the government’s use of information and communication technology to support increased public sector productivity. It does this by describing how the public sector can use ICT to deliver better government services, engage openly with stakeholders and improve government operations. The Vision explains the actions and activities to support each of these priorities.

The ICT Strategic Vision acknowledges the fundamental role of ICT in delivering effective government operations and services. It outlines a possible new direction for the use of ICT by government - a shift of emphasis not just from cost efficiency but also to one of improving public sector productivity. The Secretaries’ ICT Governance Board, a committee of departmental secretaries responsible for the whole of government use of ICT, has overseen development of the draft Vision. My colleagues and I on the Board are now seeking the community’s comments and feedback. In releasing the draft Vision, we want to ensure that the final document reflects the community’s needs and expectations from government in using ICT to deliver services, improve our operations and better engage with you. I invite you to read the draft Vision and participate in the conversation through this blog. Comments will remain open until Monday 16 May 2011.

Comments

The document is avialable in PDF, DOC and RTF formats. Unfortunately this shows a lack of vision by not supplying the document in an efficient and easy top read web format. Assuming the vision follows this approach, government IT will be three times as complex and cost about ten times as much as it needs to.

It is not sufficient to release grand sounding visionary documents, AGIMO has to also show that it is competent at actually using ICT in practice.

Much to the contrary of Mr Worthington's comment, it's great to see the document available in a number of standard, accessible formats that are able to be archived effectively. Having a whole of Australian Government approach to an ICT strategy is an excellent step in the right direction, as is inviting public comment. As both a citizen and employee of the Australian Government, I look forward to reviewing this document in the coming weeks and providing constructive comment.

Thanks for sharing this draft - I hope I'm not the only person excited to see this agenda. ICT shouldn't be an end in itself - so its great that this document is focussed on what the outcomes of good technology will look like. Sharing and reuse of tech across government is also great.

I'm looking forward to promoting this in my department.

jimi bostock wrote April 14, 2011 at 5:46 pm:

>... folks who make no comment on the content of documents but feel the need to reduce what is a profound discussion of the future of government ICT ... into a discourse on the format it is presented. ...

Yes, sorry, perhaps I was a bit harsh. But it would make the discussion a lot easier if the document being discussed was well formatted. As an example, I would like to be able to cut and paste a quote into a blog and retain the formatting in the process.

As it is the content of the document is fine. It is a good vision. I suggest AGIMO lead by example in implementing the vision, increasing public sector productivity, by producing efficiently formatted documents.

> ... if we want to really know what the future of online is we should all look at Tom’s website ... much the same as it did 15 years ago ...

As I mostly produce text, there is no much scope for fancy formatting. But I have added some formatting and icons in the last 15 years. ;-)

A question on the aim to be open:
Does the vision of being open merely mean that the government will be open about the actions it takes regarding ICT, and involving the community/public to comment on decisions before they're finalised, or does it also mean that the government will attempt to embrace open source technology?

I for one would be very happy if this were the case, especially if the government made contributions to open source technologies. If governments worldwide contributed to open source, rather than consuming as they currently do, the quality of the technology used by the governments would likely improve greatly as well as creating powerful infrastructure that could be adopted by new corporations, making innovation easier and improving mean productivity worldwide as companies spend less time "Reinventing the wheel."

If there are disadvantages to this, I would be very glad to hear them.

Jimi Bostock wrote April 15, 2011 at 12:12 pm

>Hey Tom, and me sorry for my snide comment about your website. ...

That is okay. I deserved it after my intemperate remarks about the formatting of the Vision document.

>... AGIMO ... are really trying to drive an innovation agenda against alll odds. ...

AGIMO are fighting the good fight and mostly doing it well. But I wish they would put the stuff in HTML format, so it is more widely read. As an example, I could then simply paste quotes into my course notes (I teach this stuff to public servants around the world). As it is I have to spend hours fiddling with the formatting to make it usable.

>So, Tom, shaking hands virtually :)

Okay, now perhaps we should get back to actually discussing the vision document?

As an example, perhaps the vision statement needs another strategic action under "IV: Engage Openly" about creating open source software:

Strategic Action: Creating and Collaborating on New Tools

Government will build better partnerships for new software, standards and policy tools. This will be done in collaboration with other governments and industry. To maximise the economic value from these tools, preference will be given to open source development.

The National Archives Xena Software for Digital Preservation provides an example of leadership, with the NSW Government adopting the system.

Releasing a draft strategic document of this nature is a very positive first step; AGIMO should be congratulated and hopefully better supported as a result.

The skills shortage are a perennial issue for everybody. Perhaps AGIMO could encourage the APSC to streamline the long-winded recruitment process. Obviously you have to take care in filling very specialist jobs, but requiring all applicants to submit extensive applications addressing vague selection criteria for generic skills like IT and accounting is a complete and utter waste of our time. In the private sector you can just email your CV, get called for an interview and if you're lucky get a job offer in a matter of days. The APS manages the drag the selection process out for weeks or even months.

Andrew McGalliard - AGIMO says:
April 18, 2011 at 2:04 pm

>Mike, Kerry and Tom... ICT Career Structure in 2010 ICT Career Structure is built upon the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) ...

Good. The Queensland Government also seems to be keen on SFIA, with 90 of the 127 web pages from Australian government agencies mentioning it.

But has there been progress in implementing SFIA? I could only find one APS job ad in the last year (from IP Australia), mentioning it.

This is a very solid vision from the Australian Government. It's great to see the Government producing documents such as these and giving the public an opportunity to comment on them.

In Strategic Action Five: Investing optimally - the current rigorous investment processes at the whole of Government level are identified such as the two pass process. "Action program 5.1" identifies the need for "Better Investment governance and information". I believe there needs to be a lighter weight framework introduced and promoted as best practice for evaluating ICT-enabled investment at the individual department level for small investments that aren't subject to either a two-pass process or a Gateway review. Such a framework will assist departments to make a determination whether its investment is aligned with government policy. I know that individual departments may well already have their own frameworks for evaluating smaller investments in place, however this isn't always consistent. The Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance have produced an Investment Management Standard to ensure that solutions are focused on the needs that drive an investment and the benefits they will produce. The Australian Government should follow suit and consider leveraging the Investment Management Standard for its own use and AGIMO should recommend the practice for smaller investments in the Federal Government.

This Vision should include quantitative measures. Currently it has some very general qualitative measures under each Strategic Priority. These are good, but it would be great if they were specific and measurable. By establishing a baseline the Government will be able to make a definitive judgement as to whether the vision has been a success and it can be used to improve future Visions. This could be useful in zeroing in on specific parts of the Vision too. Regardless I think that Figure 1 will benefit from having a "Measures" section appended at the end, so that a complete picture can be gleaned from the graphic alone.

Hi David,

I'm not sure if this doc may be of interest to you.
It's an equivalent doc from the perspective of the guys who are inventing the next generation of (inter) networks.
http://www.terena.org/activities/tf-msp/documents/case4nrens/

Just as you are attempting to encourage people in the silos, which end with .gov.au to collaborate, they are doing the same on the silos which end in .edu; just globally rather than Nationally.

You'd understand that these kind of initiatives always terminate in the idea of a common log on to a range of apps/services/content which at present are distributed around institutional networks. In .gov.au's case this means three levels of .gov.au and a myriad of departmental silos.

It's telling that AGIMO tries to squeeze it's visions through a needle's eye = "increased public sector productivity" = while noting that "Our services are frequently judged and measured against those of the private sector". i.e. Talks about "delivering services" when private orgs talk about "enabling access" to services = self service.

It's also been a source of amusement that the australia.gov.au initiative has been handed to a computing company which has no experience in providing a framework for (easy to use) institutional internet-working. i.e. services that are intuitive and require no technical knowledge.

So can I suggest 2 things. Firstly include someone in your advisory team from aarnet who is across the latest developments in enabling an open ID exchange. http://openidentityexchange.org/trust-frameworks/us-icam

Secondly, when you run "an open consultation", would you include a few of your global peers in the discussion. Or better still, share your visions.gov with other locals.edu. http://www.innovation.gov.au/Science/ResearchInfrastructure/Pages/defaul...

It's getting tiring watching the two sectors "delivering their services", independently.

Hasta luego.

Hi and thanks for the opportunity to comment on the draft ICT Strategic Vision. I am employed in the APS, but am commenting purely as a private citizen. My comments are in no way endorsed by the agency for which I work.

Firstly, I’d suggest that the draft ICT Strategic Vision doesn’t offer much in the way of suggestions and strategies for improving the productivity of public servants. As the Productivity Dividend was recently raised, this is of interest to those at the pointy end: what can we do to lift our productivity? And how is ICT going to enable that to happen?

I’d like to see agencies introduce a common Intranet link, such as http://intranet or http://intranet.gov.au (with links to all agencies Intranets). This could be as simple as a link to their existing agency Intranet (where one exists). Obviously agencies without an existing Intranet would have to go through the process of creating a new one. While each agency has their own specific requirements, there are some pretty standard bits of information required by all employees. AGIMO could provide direction on what is important, the minimums.

This simple change would enable employees who are moving agencies to be able to start from Day 1 and access important information on how to perform their jobs, who to contact (e.g. links to contact directories, etc), the organisational structure and other important information. This would be beneficial in time of emergency as agencies could pull staff from other agencies and have them productive in a far shorter time frame. Also if ICT staff are to be moving between agencies in response to changing programme and project needs (a possible outcome of the ICT workforce review), they could be productive far more quickly, as they are able to immediately pick up basic information about the agency and how it works.

The other main thing I’d like to see is the use of well documented APIs by agencies to expose Public Sector Information. With the use of australia.gov.au to increase this could be very useful, as agencies can expose their data securely and quickly using APIs, building useful applications right on the australia.gov.au site. For example, it would be possible to create an application detailing a person’s interaction with all government agencies over time. It would also be useful for individual agencies and create an industry of third-party developers, who rather than having to scrape sites for content or converting existing documents, could directly interact with and manipulate the agency’s data. Of course, public servants would also be able to take advantage of easier access to other agency’s data and build applications to increase their own productivity. Again AGIMO is the obvious place to lead the implementation of API’s across agencies; there could even be a standard for all agencies, making it even easier and better!

I hope these suggestions are useful and I’m happy to talk more about them.

Great content, it’s exciting to see the strategic vision articulated in this document. As the document states, People have high expectations that the services they receive from Government will be the equivalent of private sector offerings. This vision clearly sets the stage for the Australian government to deliver better services, engage openly & improve government operations. Who can argue with that?

User experience is crucial to success. This spans far beyond common looking styles across multiple sites but requires user studies to map a citizens journey across multiple agencies to ensure the two way sharing of information is streamlined and even personalised where appropriate. As we rely more frequently on the internet as a preferred communication channel, user experience is critical part of the success, and if the online experience is less than a face to face conversation or phone call, then the efforts will fail.

Providing open access to data (e.g. via data.gov.au) will provide not just analysis of data, but an explosion of access to information across multiple devices and formats. Providing non IT cross agency access to this data across agencies will ensure it is kept up to date and therefore constantly providing value.

One recommendation I would have regarding the timeline is to measure success early and often. Analysis on customer reaction to any improvement should be in the very early stages and can be automated. This way stakeholders can prioritize budget spending on web experience areas that are highly adopted by citizens or not driving the expected results.

As for the comments above on publishing formats, people like choice and some content works well on the web, some do not. As an example, I read through this document as a PDF on my iPad during a recent flight. Standards are important, but open data & choice of delivery to individual needs are more important. Some people like raw data, some people like coloured charts, some people have accessibility requirements. Everyone should have access to what they need. Choice is good!

I am very happy to see that AGIMO have released the draft strategic Vision as it gives us in the agencies a view of where AGIMO thinks ICT needs to be in the future. We need this discussion between agencies and AGIMO – so this blog is very useful – thanks.
I am very interested in the Strategic Action Item Five – Invest Optimally. If AGIMO/DofD get more information regarding proposed investments from agencies, which is quite possible & practical (USA have been doing this for some time) then how does government make decisions regarding its ‘duplication’, ‘strategic ICT investment’, or fit with the ‘cloud’? It seems to me that at the moment government is lacking the basic element to assure proposed ICT investments (business cases) – and that element is an architecture of government ICT.
What I propose is that Government builds a future state (may be 3, 5 or 8 years out) view of what it believes ICT of government should look like – in terms of the major building blocks that are needed to enable the delivery of the Vision. This cannot get too detailed & must not get bogged down in discussion about how it should be delivered – at this stage it should focus on what, not the how.
Each ICT investment that is reviewed by DofD needs to be then mapped against this future state view and a set of questions answered:-
1)Is there an existing WofG service which could provide what this investment needs?
2)Does this investment add to our set of WofG services and therefore we need to perform WofG assurance (as well as agency assurance)?
3)If this investment good value for money when compared against how much $money was invested to deliver the same type of service in other agencies?
Note that I use the term ‘service’ several times – our management of government ICT needs to pay much more attention to
a)the services our citizens need
b)the services our government businesses use to deliver the citizen services
c)the services our ICT systems use to deliver the business services
If the vision could address this need for a view of future state and also the need to manage ICT services by tracing their line-of-sight to business & therefore citizen service then this would be very, very useful.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the draft Vision.

The paper notes the following changes to the technology landscape; mobile technologies, cloud computing, broadband and Web 2.0. It then expands on cloud computing, broadband and Web 2.0 but there does not seem to be any information on the intentions around mobile devices. Should the Vision cover the adoption of mobile devices?

The issue of accessibility for people with disabilities (WCAG 2.0) is also not discussed in the Vision. Should the Vision cover conformance to WCAG 2.0?

For your consideration,

Michelle

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Vision. I am very optimistic about the strategic direction outlined in the paper. Particular kudos for the manner in which the ideas are articulated and presented in Figure 1. I watch with keen interest in the development of the project level. I am also interested in watching government tie together some of the concepts presented in recent publications ie: Shared Service blueprint, cloud strategy, datacentre strategy et al. It makes great sense to me to see a better alignment of policy of this nature filter from Fed, to State and to local gov't. Innovation of this kind that supports the public servants in role can only be a good thing.
Thanks,
Sarah

There is theory and there is practice.

My perception is that immediate term cost cutting always comes first, outsourcing second, and investing in staff development and careers, a long last, because it costs money. Ongoing Education is seen as a negative. Unless a distinct business need is identified, there is no money for ICT training in at least one large department.

In 1.4 it states "Develop ICT workforce skills and utilisation" by
"Build on existing ICT workforce planning approaches to make better use of the ICT skilled workforce across government" .

'Workforce planning' is not going to address strategic directions and goals of efficiency, if training is systematically ignored, late, and backwards looking. It sends a bad message, and you don't have that pool of talent that used to exist and ensure quality, and not endless phases and releases to reflect incremental lessons learnt.

That's good Peter,

Especially your comment about "ongoing education".

I find it's a bit easier to see progress here, for these kinds of "sector centric" strategies, when you put them in their broader social context. i.e. This "gov centric" inquiry sits as an "innovation council" in this inquiry. http://www.innovation.gov.au/Industry/IndustryInnovationCouncils/Pages/d...

They all have the same aims = build connections and collaborate across Councils and with other innovation initiatives. But you won't see them collaborating. So you'll understand that it's almost impossible to break down the silo culture. Catch 22 eh?

First comment - a fantastic and nicely succinct vision.

I think a persistent ‘spirit’ in the document is that people want the same level of online (including mobile) services from government as provided by the private sector.

So, how does government do that? It’s a big question.

Perhaps we could look at this question as if we were individuals who aspire to be like someone else. Let’s say I am an athlete and we want to get the same results as a superior athlete. What would I do?

I might want to know about their diet and their training regime. I might want to get the goss on any psychological methods they use. I would probably look very closely at their body shape. I would also be interested in their support personnel such as coaches, trainers, etc.

And why would I do this?

I would be looking to mimic what I have discovered.

I think that for government to provide online services that match private sector offerings, we might need to start with a very thorough inspection of what the private sector does to achieve the results they do. In the end, just aspiring to be like someone ain’t going to get you there. As they say, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride :)

So, where to start?

Perhaps a good place would be to look at how they structure themselves. How do they group people together? What sort of skills do they group together into teams? How do they form links between teams? Do they have flat structures? What about their chain of command?

We might also then look at how they generate ideas and how these are driven to completion.

How do they understand what the public wants? It would seem that understanding the needs would be pretty important. After all, it’s life or death for them. If they don’t deliver what the people want, the bottom line goes down. Shareholders get pretty angry. People lose jobs.

How do they translate these needs into ideas? What sort of people do they bring to the table to come up with the ideas? Who drives the ideas into reality? Of these, who drives, who supports, and who signs off?

And then, once all is said and done, how do they confirm that the products are working for the people?

I think starting to understand answers to these questions might be a rich vein of insights.

In a very practical sense, it would be interesting to know how the relationship between I.T. departments and business areas in private sector are forged. Comparing this to how agencies work might be a very important clue.

The feature that I like the most about this document is the inclusion of the implementation roadmap [ref p. 27].

However, as well as the Actions, Activities and Timelines, I would like to see another column – “responsible co-ordinator”

The responsible co-ordinator would be an agency, and eventually an individual, tasked with the responsibility for co-ordinating the development of a portfolio of projects and initiatives across agencies to actually ensure that the actions are implemented. This would include a governance role.

While this may not be immediately possible to publish, it should perhaps be the first implementation role of AGIMO to work out where all these responsibilities can be assigned.

Without this, the roadmap is just a wishlist. We need to make sure that it is actually implemented.

Following on from this is the governance mechanism itself. While the strategy comments on the need for an AGIMO governance role [ref last para p.30], I would like to see more focus on this structure in the plan.

The current Gateway review process, as administered from the Department of Finance, will not suffice. These reviews are too high level to get at the necessary detail to find out what agencies are really doing. Agencies tend to feed them with what they want to project.

What will be needed are reviews that are co-ordinated by each action responsible co-ordinator that have the means [ie knowledgeable people] and authority to seek out the information they need - across agency boundaries – and report back on what is really going on. This will require a mix of external and internal reviewers working together with the authority to ask for the information they need and the ability to go looking for that information, not merely have it presented to them. This will be anathema to some agencies, but without it the governance will have no teeth and the process will fail.

Indeed, without this sort of governance the whole strategy will simply be paid lip service, as so many cross government initiatives tend to end up. This is too important an initiative to consign to that fate.

I would also like to comment on one of the issues raised in the strategy – cloud computing.

I like to draw a parallel between the current state of cloud computing and the original vision for Web Services almost ten years ago.

When first developed the technology around Web services, which now underpins the service oriented architecture strategies now being widely deployed on intranets, was designed to be used across the Internet. The idea was to harness web services located on publicly accessible servers to build locally useable applications.

As we now know, this was not how the technology was finally used – for reasons of governance and security. I suspect the same thing will happen to cloud computing – at least in the government arena.

There is already a distinction being made between public and private clouds. The latter using the same technologies as the former - with the difference being the ability to restrict usage of the cloud to a known manageable group.

The strategy should specifically refer to the establishment of a government PRIVATE cloud. For reasons of economy of scale, this could be expanded to include state and federal agency users. It should use cloud resources totally owned and operated by and for the government and have all its assets physically located in Australia. It is doubtful whether the Commonwealth agencies alone would have sufficient take-up – at least in the next few years – to cost justify a purely federal private cloud.

This would render many of the serious problems with the public cloud model far more manageable – in the same way that running Web Services on intranets, rather than on the Internet, has.
In particular it would:

•Avoid sending government data into sites outside of Australian jurisdiction. Most currently available public clouds cannot guarantee this. This is a critical weakness in the public cloud for government use. Some foreign jurisdictions have interesting data access laws that would make storing data within those jurisdictions totally undesirable. [eg the USA, among others]
•Exclude dubious users from entering the cloud security perimeter, where they might otherwise be more able to compromise the inter-user security separations.
I, for one, would not entrust my personal details to a government agency that I knew was using the public cloud to store or process them.
•Improve the service continuity prospects – simply because the ownership and location of all the cloud components would be within the government sphere of influence. In public cloud solutions there is little control over who is responsible for the various elements of the cloud.

•Improve security accountability. Ie if security is compromised, it would be easier to find out and hold someone to account.
I believe the strategy should focus on the development of such a government private cloud, to the exclusion of public cloud solutions.

"The responsible co-ordinator would be an agency...."

I agree with almost all of your comments (Nigel, Neil, Jimi). And we can see a starting point. If you view this inquiry as a subset of the one over at innovation.gov.au, then there should be the addition of "Public sector Innovation Council" from their page to this one, and the "responsible co-ordinators" (Pia calls them "Gatekeepers") would be a team which included AGIMO's, DIIST's and others. (that's the problem, the teams at present aren't inter-institutional, so the perspective gets limited).

The result is that you don't get the primary discussion about Single Sign On to "common (cloud) services" (for both all citizens and "particular communities") happening. The concrete result = Australia.gov.au takes the Institutional-centric mechanic's approach, while the aaf-approach isn't broad enough to include edu services which must include public servants.

N.B when I talk about "common services" I'm talking, in the first instance, about the type of services (I'm using a network manager's lingo. You might call them apps) which Pia Waugh used to run her "public sphere" series E.g. this blog). i.e. Apps, in a cloud, that could be shared, by Innovation councils, when running a co-ordinated and never ending inquiry.

This would mean that ALL agencies/institutions would have to share the same directory (which is discussion around various NREN's at the moment).

Until then, here's another vision. http://www.vision2020australia.org.au/our-focus

The concept of "data.gov.au" to provide more uniform access to data is on the right track, but there is a long way to go before it will be a sustainable way of publishing and managing large quantities of data. It's still really just a bucket of inconsistent material. However, there's already been much work across diverse areas to create uniform, integrable data models and services/standards. Even within each area this has been a mammoth task. Fortunately it seems that useful standards are emerging. Someone needs to coordinate all of this activity to ensure that data is published via the smallest feasible number of most capable standards.

Whilst the vision is laudable, the default assumption regarding risk/constraints is that there are none. This is far from the truth in the current context of whole of government policies, agencies’ governance and financial management regimes.

Page 12 of the draft strategic vision states:
“Government will improve its operations by actively encouraging innovation and making better use of existing and new ICT capability investments. It will improve the way it identifies how to get the most value from its investments. This will include guiding and helping to shape policy choices to better use existing capabilities, speed delivery, avoid unnecessary duplication and complexity, and make best use of new and emerging technologies.“

Looking at a few key points;
1.Innovation – whilst innovation can create opportunities that previously didn't exist, the flip side is risk; something the APS and our political masters have virtually no appetite for.
2.Making better use of existing and new ICT capability – savings from the Gershon review - 5.3.1 states “I also recommend that 50% of the savings generated by these recommendations be transferred to a central fund for reinvestment in projects to improve efficiency and effectiveness of ICT BAU activities, such as replacement of legacy software and hardware with high support and maintenance costs.”. If I recall correctly, nearly $500 million in savings were set aside for these activities; what happened to it? Again, if I recall correctly, it wasn't used in accordance with the recommendations and, the APS who realised these savings, is left with nothing.
3.The above point illustrates that government is more interested in making political headway than allowing the APS “to shape policy choices”.
4.Speed delivery, avoid unnecessary duplication and complexity – again the lack of appetite for risk enforces overly onerous governance regimes that are simply not conducive to the dynamics of the new technologies that have the potential to realise savings.

Current antiquated management practices (industrial age not the information age) introduce numerous delays, stifle innovation, kill morale, disengage staff and make the APS unnecessarily inefficient. Is it any wonder we can't recruit highly skilled staff; they just won't put up with it.
Personally I think the Moran review was a very good first step, however it too has become a victim to the government's short term political aspirations.

Until the APS has the ability to mitigate risk associated with governments' policy failures and short term political objectives we'll always struggle.

Good poinst Michael. The lack of apettite for risk is a fundemental issue for innovation.

I think that the main game is to work out collectively how to work within that constraint. I am pretty sure we can't just waive a magic wand and rick aversion dissapears.

Indeed, over the past couple of years working in the gov 2 space, I have come to appreciate the need for some level of risk aversion. I can't quite believe I am saying that but I have some sort of explanation.

What I have come to understand is that what I see as risk aversion, others see as due diligence. Now you and I would probably smell a rat in that. We might see the concept of due diligence as a claok for simply avoiding doing something innovative.

But I am starting to suspect that the truth is somewhere in between. So, I am starting to get very interested in where that balance is.

In my early thinking, I am thinking about how we might be able to find where risks have been managed and where innovative due diligence has been undertaken. Perhaps through finding exemplars where the balance between innovation and risk assesment have been found we can start to chart the course for more of the same.

In this, could we find ways to help the innovators sell their vision and set some new processes for APS officers who are trying to manage risk?

I think that the end-game is to build understanding (and therefore trust)between both sides of the issue. The more that innovators understand the needs of the SES and above in handling risk and the more that the SES and above understand innovators, we might get somewhere.

The strategy seems quite comprehensive and outcome focussed, so that is a great starting point. The resulting dialogue includes some great points on risk, constraints, training and leadership. To me, the hard part is moving beyond aspirations and targets to viable, implementable programs of work.

When I read the strategy I sense that it is actually talking about transforming how we conceive, analyse, select, develop and deliver ICT systems and ICT enabled 'government business' change. This sort of game changing shift would take significant leadership, upskilling and investment - not easy to do in a world where we are trying to do more with less.

Another challenge will be designing and establishing strong enough cross agency relationships and mutual accountabilities – I think that simple ad hoc MOUs will not be enough for a world where significant systems and services are to be shared and sustained. Perhaps we will need some standard government service delivery agency-to-agency engagement and sourcing/contracting models. This will be especially necessary for those agencies that need to do significant work to evolve to a service delivery orientation.

Finally, the implementation program required to satisfy the strategic directions and goals would seem to me to need to be ‘largish’ and ‘longish’. This means we would need a strong lead agency (or group of agencies) and significant investments and commitment to the ‘common good’ by all involved agencies over a multi-year period. This is not a trivial ask, but I do hope the program gets the support and commitment that it deserves.

Pleasing to see contemporary themes around objectives and approaches, provides a very positive sense of how we can do things differently in government. Having said that, I think it would be useful to note that "government needs to balance the potential gains from innovation in ICT with the need to provide stable and reliable operations and services and meet public expectations of governance and accountability".

Suggest adding the action under Building Capability in relation to Technology/policy integration and delivery (enhance?)

Would like to see a specific action under Building Capability about engaging/leveraging industry capability and possibly more explicit references to industry in other strategies - they appear in the detail, but not as evident in the summary points.

Good to read, consistent themes and while general enough to be applied in any government service delivery context, it's pragmatic and able to be directly applied.

I offer my support as the Australian Information Commissioner for the draft Strategic Vision. I congratulate AGIMO for stimulating such robust discussion about these important issues.

The draft Strategic Vision promotes a co-ordinated government approach to ICT and greater transparency in government. These aspects of the draft Strategic Vision are consistent with the work of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) in relation to government information management. The OAIC has championed the need for stronger harmonisation of information management policies and practices to drive coherent government information management strategy.

I also welcome recognition throughout the draft Strategic Vision that in adopting new technologies, potential privacy risks need to be carefully considered and addressed (pp. 7, 15, 16, 20). Ensuring that individuals’ information rights are safeguarded is a key component of responsible information management in government.

I offer some comments on strategic priorities 2 and 3, which are of particular relevance to the OAIC.

Strategic priority 2: engage openly
Engaging openly and transparently increases recognition that government information is a national resource to be managed for public purposes. Effective consultation with the public will enhance participatory democracy leading to better policy development and decisions. Actions and goals in the draft Strategic Vision support the principle of open access to information.

The OAIC developed draft Principles on Open Public Sector Information which draw on the work of the Government 2.0 Taskforce and other existing information policy initiatives and principles. The principles champion open access to PSI, robust information asset management frameworks, findable information, open and accessible formats online and clear reuse rights. Public comment was invited on the draft principles earlier this year (see Issues Paper: Towards an Australian Government Information Policy), and the OAIC is working towards releasing a final version on 25 May at the Meta2011 Conference.

The OAIC is also working closely with agencies on implementing the reforms of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (p. 18). These reforms require agencies to publish a broad range of information under a new Information Publication Scheme, as well as publishing information released in response to individual freedom of information requests in a ‘disclosure log’. Like the draft Strategic Vision, these reforms require agencies to take steps to make information more accessible and consequently more usable by members of the public.

Strategic priority 3: improve government operations
I welcome discussion about encouraging innovation (‘to harness the full potential of the digital economy and technology innovation’ (p. 24)), and agree that greater access to government information allows third parties to develop innovative applications and services to complement government services (p. 25). Making this information available for use and reuse outside of government can also deliver benefits to the community. Examples of how agencies are already doing this, and the resulting public benefits, are outlined in the issues paper Towards an Australian Government Information Policy.

The OAIC strongly supports the use of Web 2.0 technology and is interested in further discussion of how best to deliver ICT capabilities to smaller agencies (p. 23). The OAIC, as a small agency, looks for opportunities to share facilities, expertise, and ICT capabilities. Recent examples include using govspace and govdex for consultation. Consideration of how similar initiatives can be used across government to promote openness, transparency and accessibility, while limiting the significant costs (including expertise and resources) of developing, building and running these platforms is essential.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.
The draft vision is commendable. However, the current issues with government ICT do not reflect a lack of vision (arguably there have been and still are too many visions, with several partly implemented) but rather a lack of overall leadership, a lack of collegiality to follow what is best from a whole of government perspective, a lack of transparency, and a lack of accountability.
If decision-makers are serious about making efficient and effective use of ICT, they will agree on an Overarching Vision, document and publish both the Vision and its implementation plan, and establish a process to ensure accountability. Only then will government ICT move away from being ‘largely agency focussed’ (p4 of the draft) – which is probably a generous assessment of the current situation.
The Overarching Vision needs to:
.take account of business to government, and individuals to government, interactions;
.facilitate downloading information and providing information, payments etc to government;
.minimise the number of systems. It is hard to see why more than one system for businesses and one system for individuals are necessary, and indeed one overall system may be sufficient;
.proscribe duplication and overlap.
A good first step would be document the current suite of material ICT systems and proposals (including those announced in the Budget), including details of the Agency/portfolio responsible for each material system, estimated running/developments costs, and any duplication/overlap between the systems. The documentation should then be made public.
Documentation and publication would help inform development of an Overarching Vision, and demonstrate that decision-makers are prepared to be transparent, accountable etc.
Without this first step the draft vision will become yet another high-level document sitting on APS bookshelves, that is not inconsistent with just about any ICT output or outcome. Indeed, a cynic might think that is the intention.
Here’s hoping for better…
PS: why is the draft vision for ‘portfolio ICT investment’ (p5), rather than WoG investment?
An overall Vision should obviously focus on WoG, even if in practice Secretaries first probably will collectively need to focus sequentially on each Portfolio. This reflects that, acting individually, efficient and effective outcomes have not been achieved – certainly not for the APS as a whole, and perhaps not in any portfolio.

I'd firstly like to congratulate the Australian Government on its willingness to approach whole-of-government reforms with one of sincerity via the AGIMOs Open Government Declaration (Government 2.0 initiative). I feel the 2011 ICT Strategic Vision not only outlines a roadmap for ICT efficiencies and improvements within Australia, but also offers a framework for other online businesses to adopt into business models or marketing strategies.

As founder and forum development manager of the online discussion forum – NRM Links, I would like to offer comments to the draft strategic vision from the perspective of its adoption within environment departments and non-government natural resource management organisations. provide professional and independent advice to strengthen existing and emerging communication pathways and improve the broader communities' involvement in environmental matters that benefit or affect them.

As the diverse cross-section of the Australian community continues to become ever more internet savvy, we increasingly use, or participate in, a range of online services. We assimilate ICT into our everyday lives on the basis that it is user-friendly, reliable and reputable. All tiers of government are making headway on realising the interrelationship and role they play online and are embracing the opportunities associated with developing (or using) intelligent server-side technologies for data management and online service provision purposes. Government websites are increasingly setting the benchmark as gateways to accessible databases of information, resources and services i.e. online announcements, registrations, employment opportunities, reports (including public comments), policies, grants etc. and increasingly geospatial maps (mashups), social blogs and forums.

I would like to focus on the importance of government using online community/stakeholder engagement tools such social blogs and forums to consult with industry and provide professional and independent advice to strengthen existing and emerging communication pathways which improve the broader communities' involvement in matters that benefit or affect them.

I simply would like to raise questions or points of discussion which are not addressed in detail in the 2011 ICT Strategic Vision and which may require additional thought or incorporation into the plan.
•To what extent do citizens utilise government websites to communicate or consult with government representatives? Analysis of website statistics and presentation of this information.
•Online forums should be aimed solely at facilitating ongoing and open discussion between government and non-government organisations for the purpose of enhancing partnership and collaboration which runs deeper than economic competitiveness, investment or growth.
•Communication should be aimed at achieving results-orientated outcomes which offer extension and consultation services to a diverse cross section of the industry and capture the evolving opinion of community and expert panel members (online public database).
•Government should look to extend its ICT / media services and government consultation outside of its own websites to that of established and reputable online businesses (forums, blogs) as a means to engage industry representatives and businesses participating in existing and established online discussion forums.
•When public comment is received via online forums what protocols are in place to ensure receipt of acknowledgement or incorporation within plans/policies as part of its stakeholder consultation and decision making process?
•The adoption of the MERI framework into the ICT Strategic Vision may prove beneficial to its long-term implementation and evaluation.
•It is integral that government outsource forum services (where required) with user friendly, robust and secure software platforms.
•To ensure open engagement and consultation occurs within government departments, APS staff must be willing to represent their respective positions (without fear of misrepresentation) and openly provide professional advice and/or personal viewpoints.
•Government representatives should not adopt a top down approach when consulting online, but one of accurate information provision. Representatives (and forum members) require training/awareness of protocols in online (net) etiquette.
•Government should not be seeking or encouraging anonymity in its online forums if it wishes to adopt a truly transparent, accountable and robust form of service delivery.
•Government websites should list links (reciprocal) to reputable online discussion forums which adopt the ICT Strategic Vision.
•Online discussion forums identifying robust social, economic or environmental solutions (which benefit government) should feed into subsequent public/expert panel workshops with an end goal of informing scientific research or government policy development.
•Does the Vision encompass the provision of seed or recurrent funding to online businesses which embrace the 2011 ICT Strategic Vision?
•If a change in government occurs, how is investment sustained over the life of the ICT Strategic Vision?

This feedback relates not to the Vision itself but to the AGIMO blog website and its usefulness in providing feedback. I don't know if this is the appropriate forum, but I think that allowing for some more structured feedback would be beneficial. While an unstructured conversation is useful, its hard to get an objective idea as to whether people agree to the necessity of including the feedback in the final document.

A good model for refinement of this mechanism is contained in the Your Health website for the feedback on the Draft Concept of Operations for the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record, this website allows people to categorise the theme of their comments and identify which stakeholder group they are.

The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) has written a letter directly to Secretary David Tune providing its considered feedback on the Draft ICT Vision.

The AIIA does not believe that sharing the content of that letter in a public blog such as this will be productive. Specifically on this occasion we are concerned that comments that we make in our letter may be taken out of context, which has occurred previously with media coverage of our response to an earlier AGIMO paper that was published on the blog.

More widely, the AIIA does not consider that open commentary on a public blog is the best way for industry to engage with government around potential improvements to ICT service delivery. In a highly competitive industry such as ours it will not provide a forum that ICT industry companies will feel is workable for their best and brightest reform ideas. We note that the Draft ICT Vision proposes even wider use of blogging as the Australian Governments preferred feedback mechanism and we urge that this be re-considered to be balanced appropriately with other forms of direct consultation.

The AIIA represents over 450 member companies of all sizes and types. If an AIIA member company would like to see a copy of our letter of response to the Draft ICT Vision then please contact either myself or my colleague Loretta Johnson – further details can be found at www.aiia.com.au

Regards,
Ian Birks – CEO - AIIA

This post is now closed for comment.

On behalf of the Secretaries’ ICT Governance Board, I’d like to thank you for participating in this discussion on the draft ICT Strategic Vision. In releasing the draft Vision, we wanted to ensure that the final document reflects the community’s needs and expectations from government in using ICT to deliver services, improve our operations and better engage with you.

I value the time and effort you have taken to assist us to refine the draft. We will now consider your comments and feedback in the context of finalising the 2011 ICT Strategic Vision. We hope to release the final Vision later in 2011.

I’m impressed by the number of comments on this post and the thoughtful suggestions that many of you have made. All of this has provided valuable input for the development of the final version of the Vision. This post has attracted the most comments in response to our requests for your thoughts and ideas.

Finance will continue to explore the use of blogs for consultation as an effective method for seeking feedback from the wider community.

If you do have any further comments about the Vision, you can direct them to ictstrategy@finance.gov.au.

We’ll keep you informed about the development of the final ICT Strategic Vision.

Regards

David Tune