NSW unveils IT consolidation plans

The New South Wales government chief information officer Paul Edgecumbe has outlined how much of the state's ageing IT infrastructure will be consolidated as part of a four year plan to reap AU$565 million in savings, including the potential loss of IT jobs.

The New South Wales government chief information officer Paul Edgecumbe has outlined how much of the state's ageing IT infrastructure will be consolidated as part of a four year plan to reap AU$565 million in savings, including the potential loss of IT jobs.

Speaking at the launch of the state government's People First technology plan in Sydney today, Edgecumbe said back-office applications like e-mail and payroll systems would be consolidated over the next four years and the savings generated directed to 'front line' technologies such as e-learning, patient care and emergency services.

"Our core agency systems were put in many many years ago and require serious new investment. So that's patient management, student managment, police management, licensing systems ... all require replacement," said Edgecumbe.

"One of the primary strategies is to replace those systems, increase investment in front-line services, and stay within existing ICT expenditure levels."

The NSW government's back-end systems accounted for about 70 percent of its IT spend, according to Edgecumbe.

"We need to change that ratio," he said.

Back-end system spend would be lowered by agencies agreeing on single standards and sharing systems.

An example was a recent decision by the government's CIO executive council on a standard hardware environment, according to Edgecumbe.

"One of the things that came out of the CIO executive council recently, which is probably a first, is that all the agencies agreed to a single specification for all PCs. So when we go out to the market for 100,000 PCs per annum it is the same spec."

Savings on infrastructure like this would be redirected to e-government and information management technologies.

"It also removes the amount of time any one agency or any one CIO spends on things like e-mail and Web access and content management," said Edgecumbe.

He said e-government plans would see residents deal with the NSW government as a single entity, as opposed to having to deal with several agencies.

For example, someone registering their car with the roads and traffic authority could at the same time ask how to enrol their child at school. While the call centre operator might not know the answer, he/she could query the system and provide a response later by phone, e-mail, post etc.

The People First plan will be implemented by 17 working groups throughout government agencies. Each of these will be led by an agency CIO.

Over 90 government staff have been working on the plan since the beginning of the year, according to Edgecumbe.

The NSW government CIO office has also been restructured so that each working group has at least two representatives -- from Edgecumbe's office -- on a full-time basis.

However, the number of NSW goverment IT staff would also be restructured, Edgecumbe later revealed.

"There will be a reduction in IT personnel and IT contractors over time.

"Ultimately it will be by about AU$20 million a year," he said.

He refused to say how many jobs would go over the next four years.

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