What is the Federal Government doing about IT?
I am delighted to say the Australian Government has recently released an IT strategy covering the period of 2012 to 2015. It was released on October 4, 2012 by David Tune PSM, Secretary of the Department of Finance.
The headline statement of the report is:
"The APS (Australian Public Service) will use ICT to increase public sector and national productivity by enabling the delivery of better government services for the Australian people, communities and business, improving the efficiency of APS operations and supporting open engagement to better inform decisions."
The government has observed that it needs to actively play a role in leading innovation in information systems and the use of them to ensure an improved future for Australia.
Their three key areas of focus are to:
- Deliver better services to the public
- Improve efficiency of government operations
- Engage openly to create knowledge and collaborate effectively
There are some key points here that interest me from a systems and infrastructure point of view.
Under delivering better services they discuss building capability and this will take new systems and new or better used infrastructure. Clearly the government is keen to maximise the use of existing platforms.
They go on to talk about improving efficiency of government operations and mention shared computer resources. This is an indication that whole of government private cloud solutions are well and truly a possibility over the next three years.
They are also keen to co-ordinate procurement, which means they may be able to put pressure on large vendors such as HP and Microsoft to drive better deals.
Engaging openly will see better knowledge management solutions and information shared faster and more intelligently thanks to big data systems and business intelligence systems.
This is all very good news for the Australian public who can expect more from the government with better-informed decisions and better access to government information. It may even help the government to manage its impact on business through better decisions made in a timely manner, offering the right assistance and support to ensure a stronger economy.
The report talks about reduced cost for government and improved efficiency for government agencies and good outcomes for the Australian public, with four out of five of us engaging with the government online; but it does not talk about sustaining a strong local IT industry.
What I see no hint of in this strategy is where this will create opportunities for small and medium businesses to engage with government to provide services of any kind.
My concern is that as IT systems grow and become more centralised there will be a lot of small programming and services providers who find they are no longer able to access the jobs. Centralised procurement will want to deal with a few very big service providers, not a range of smaller local providers.
This will lead to the need for small IT providers to become more innovative and to adopt and create new solutions that ensure they remain valid to a more connected and less dependent customer base. It will be interesting to see how much of this work is done in Australia and how much is done offshore by global players.
I predict an interesting three years ahead for IT providers in Australia.
David Markus is the founder of Combo – the IT services company that ensures IT is never an impediment to growth.