Your Say: NSW responds to IT skeptics

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Your Say: NSW responds to IT skeptics

[Blog Post] Insiders cast doubt on the state's veneer of success.

Of all the states analysed under iTnews' State of IT report, those working within the NSW Government held the most mixed views about the maturity of the state's IT strategy.

Under our criteria, the iTnews study gave NSW our top ranking with a score of nine out of 12. It was noted that NSW is a government getting its tech business in order, with proactive ministers, careful progress and strong governance.

When we asked our NSW public sector IT staff if they agreed with our findings, they provided a mixed bag of views, scoring the state a tad lower at 7.5 and raising questions about agency compliance, innovation and investment scrutiny.

One bureaucrat in particular said he was concerned that the state's peak tech decision making body, the ICT Board, is made up of the same agency chiefs on the NSW Procurement Board – and that there are no mechanisms in place to address conflicts of interest that could arise as a result.

He also said congratulating the state for its data centre strategy “is premature” as he believes the return on investment remains elusive. (For the record the data centre strategy did not play a part in our State of IT assessment).

Also, while the iTnews team felt rewards for innovation were apparent in NSW, our readers disagreed.

In reply, a spokesman for the Office of Finance and Services gave us a laundry list of examples of efforts to reward innovation:

  • Innovation is one of six focus areas for the NSW Procurement Board. This has the potential identify transformational government projects that can change the way government does business.
  • The work of public sector innovators is acknowledged and promoted across the sector through case studies published on the ICT Strategy website.
  • The annual Premier’s awards rewards innovation in the sector, identifying and promoting areas of excellence in the public service.
  • The apps4nsw program rewards innovative use of government data.

When it comes to selling the central government IT agency to line agencies, iTnews’ experience suggested that the push towards cloud computing, open data and collaboration was starting to show-up across the public sector – but not all of our readers felt the necessary cultural change has taken root for these initiatives to take root.

One suggested that next year the State of IT report takes a closer look at whether a state is “working to change its culture and ensure people support the vision and goals."

In response, the OFS pointed out that its governance structure means that all agencies are involved in developing and implementing the government IT strategy.

“An ICT Leadership Group, comprising senior business leaders and CIOs from each cluster department, monitors the Strategy’s implementation and recommends new policy and strategies.”

“The ICT Professionals Community of Practice has approximately 900 members and meets four times a year to discuss ICT reform and hear stories about NSW public sector ICT and best practice service delivery.”

When it comes to IT investment – which NSW is doing a lot of right now – the government claims it has a tight hold on its purse strings, and hasn’t had any project blow outs quite on the scale of its neighbour states just yet.

“The Treasury Gateway process applies to construction, goods and services (including information and communications technology) property and accommodation procurement.

“Only business cases that demonstrate a sound business case and cost benefit analysis are funded for development in accordance with the NSW Treasury Financial Management Framework

“Further, by law, all ICT contracts are awarded based on best value for money.”

This post wraps up our feedback round on the 2014 State of IT report. We didn’t feel that we receive a large enough sample of data from the ACT, Tasmania or the Northern Territory to publish any meaningful findings, but hope to next time. Keep an eye out for a final wrap-up over the coming days.

And if you haven’t downloaded the State of IT report yet, you can find it here.

Got a news tip for our journalists? Share it with us anonymously here.
Paris Cowan
Paris Cowan joined iTnews in July 2013 after a stint at Intermedium, a news and data analysis firm based exclusively on government IT procurement. At Intermedium, Paris reported on new IT projects underway in state and federal agencies, interviewed public sector CIOs and was subsequently promoted to Online Editor in June 2012. While public sector IT will remain her key focus at iTnews, she has been given a broader remit to cover technology programs across several industries.
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