E-government strategy faces delay until 2006

E-government strategy faces delay until 2006

Summary: Release of a new five-year federal e-government strategy, originally planned for late this year, is now likely to slip to early next year, according to government sources. While the Special Minister of State, Senator Eric Abetz, is still striving to release the strategy this year, a heavy and controversial legislative workload scheduled for the next parliamentary sitting is likely to frustrate efforts to secure all necessary signoffs and approvals by the end of the year.

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Release of a new five-year federal e-government strategy, originally planned for late this year, is now likely to slip to early next year, according to government sources.

While the Special Minister of State, Senator Eric Abetz, is still striving to release the strategy this year, a heavy and controversial legislative workload scheduled for the next parliamentary sitting is likely to frustrate efforts to secure all necessary signoffs and approvals by the end of the year.

The strategy -- whose release is now more likely in February or March next year -- updates a previous document coordinated in 2002 by the now-defunct National Office of the Information Economy and overseen by then Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Senator Richard Alston.

Senator Abetz is also believed to have not yet decided the forum -- which could include a press conference or seminar -- in which to launch the strategy, which well-placed sources have described as "fairly ambitious".

The e-government strategy will build on a raft of initiatives to boost the efficiency of federal government information and communications technology (ICT), including an open source procurement guide for agencies, a taskforce to combat skills shortfalls and the new streamlined 'Gateway' project management process.

The strategy is expected to encompass existing and new initiatives to improve government service delivery to citizens and improvements to government operations.

It will primarily tackle the cohesion of approaches to online service delivery and collaborative efforts between agencies, rather than agencies' internal ICT processes.

However, while the e-government strategy is unlikely to hit its hoped-for deadline of the end of the year, Senator Abetz' office is still targeting the final parliamentary sitting of the year -- due to run two weeks from 28 November -- to introduce a Bill to deliver a raft of electoral measures, some of which touch on the Internet.

One is to enable a small-scale trial of e-voting over internal intranets to isolated groups of voters in overseas jurisdictions, such as Australian Defence Force personnel in Iraq or scientists in Antarctica, while another is requiring an individual to authorise electoral comment on Web sites in Australia.

Sources conceded however, there was no certainty of the Bill being introduced to parliament -- let alone passed -- before the end of the year.

Topics: CXO, Government AU, Tech Industry

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