NSW Govt to build IT services catalogue

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NSW Govt to build IT services catalogue

Shared services review underway.

NSW will establish a whole-of-government catalogue of business applications, email, productivity and IT infrastructure services under a three-year ICT strategy.

The strategy involves 17 initiatives and 85 actions to be implemented by the end of 2014.

It was developed in consultation with the state’s ICT industry advisors, in accordance with finance minister Greg Pearce’s pre-election promise to put technology at the “front and centre” of a Coalition State Government.

Implementation of the NSW Government ICT Strategy 2012 (pdf) will be led by government chief information officer Michael Coutts-Trotter and the Department of Finance and Services.

Coutts-Trotter told an AIIA forum on Friday that the strategy was “not a list of technology projects, but a list of business projects that involve ICT”.

The strategy blamed differences in agencies’ ICT infrastructure management arrangements for “variable ICT service quality, increased costs and a diminished ability to capitalise on emerging trends like cloud computing”.

It identified an “urgent need” to improve service quality, availability and reliability by adopting a holistic, service-oriented approach to infrastructure and managed services.

By the end of the year, the Department of Finance expected to build a service catalogue that would be used by agencies to procure email, office productivity, business applications, desktop devices, IT infrastructure, platforms and software as a service.

Although agencies would continue to make procurement decisions, the Government expected the catalogue to provide a shortlist of vetted services and “move agencies toward more common approaches, technologies and systems”.

The Department of Finance planned to develop and implement policies to support the catalogue – including policy frameworks for public cloud offerings – by mid-2013.

Minister Pearce noted that the State Government was also examining its shared services arrangements, which were currently “overcomplicating [processes] and setting up structures that weren’t necessarily delivering”.

“We’re reviewing that entire strategy to look at what sort of structure we need and the extent to which we move from trying to be a shared services business to a shared services enabling structure,” he said.

“When we see agencies with tasks that can be better served outside of the agency ... we want to have a better skill set in the shared service unit or whatever it is that enables the agency to get the service that they want.”

Virtualisation and the cloud

Coutts-Trotter said the public sector typically demonstrated “a desire to expand what you do and to do what you do in-house” and a preference for “tin-hugging” instead of outsourcing maintenance work.

“We’re ‘tin-huggers’ because we have sought to do things internally to manage risks,” he said. “To some extent, we have managed those risks but we have also missed a whole bunch of opportunities.

“We have missed opportunities to be quick-footed, we have missed opportunities to buy services that are innovative, and – I think unfairly – we have increasingly condemned our internal workforce to progressively more dull and uncreative work.

“We need to change that for a range of good reasons.”

The strategy called for agencies to develop and begin executing virtualisation plans to consolidate servers by the end of this year, with the service catalogue updated to include virtualisation technology by early 2013.

Meanwhile, the Department of Finance would work to establish a trusted private cloud offering, with planning and development work slated to take place between mid-2012 and mid-2013.

By late-2012, the Department planned to pilot a private cloud that would be built on a State Government data centre reform program that has been underway since 2009.

Agencies would be migrated to the private cloud environment from mid 2013, with completion expected by 2015.

In its ICT strategy document, the State Government described the private cloud as a first step towards “possible migration to the public cloud as these service offerings mature”.

“One of the projects for the first year is a cloud pilot project ... We will pilot a private government cloud by the end of the year,” Minister Pearce told the forum.

“We will be looking very much into how we may transition to an appropriate private government cloud as we go forward.”

Other tranches of the strategy will deliver mobile applications to citizens and establish a single, 24/7 phone number and website for all NSW Government agencies under a model dubbed 'Services NSW',

The State Government will also make government data publicly available under an open data initiative, and involve the industry earlier in procurement processes to secure better value from its $2 billion annual ICT spend.

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