Canberra promises new IT strategy in 2014

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Canberra promises new IT strategy in 2014
Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Realigned with Coalition election promises.

The Coalition government will formally stamp its impression onto whole-of-government IT with a refreshed technology strategy due next year.

The Department of Finance confirmed the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) will begin preliminary consultations with relevant stakeholders in the first half of 2014.

At its latest meeting the government’s peak IT board resolved to replace the current plan with something “in line with the government’s policy and election commitments”.

AGIMO will lead the development in consultation with other areas of Finance, the Department of Communications, other agencies and a yet to be established ICT Advisory Board.

In the lead up to the September federal election the Coalition released a comprehensive tech policy which criticised the one-year-old APS ICT Strategy as being hazy at best.

“The current APS ICT Strategy 2012-2015 contains few explicit measures of success or failure, and limited enthusiasm for embracing new ICT models.

“And while the recent digital first initiative discusses what may be more ambitious goals for online services by 2017, it also is notable for its vagueness,” it said.

The document reserved particular disdain for the public sector’s formal guidelines around offshore cloud computing, the use of which requires the sign-off of two ministers in many cases.

“While departments and agencies have a notional obligation to consider cloud services where these are relevant to a need, the process required to demonstrate a business case and obtain approval, coupled with onerous legal and security hurdles, have led many observers to interpret the existing rules as a decision to largely avoid the cloud,” it said.

A spokesperson for Finance would not confirm whether an overhaul of this provision, which was authored by the Attorney General’s Department, is on the agenda for the overhaul.

“The policy was released in July 2013 to clarify the ambiguity which previously existed around agency utilisation of cloud services,” she said.

“The policy will be reviewed 12-24 months after initial implementation”.

If the Coalition’s campaign policy is anything to go by, the new e-government plan could see a two-tier system of IT authority established, where ‘heavy user’ agencies are allowed to maintain IT autonomy while ‘light user’ agencies are compelled to move to cloud or shared solutions.

It has also proposed an ICT spending audit, after decrying Labor’s loss of momentum on the implementation of the Gershon reforms, which was only “briefly a priority” for the previous government.

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