The New Zealand government has flagged a major shift towards technology shared services within the state sector.
The government sees the transfer of GTS to an operational agency as an excellent opportunity to develop a shared service centre for the state sector.
NZ Minister of Internal Affairs Dr Richard Worth
Minister of Internal Affairs Dr Richard Worth announced the move at the GOVIS conference in Wellington today as the country's recently-elected National-led government prepares its first budget, due for release next week.
After highlighting the perilous state of public finances and their pressures on the state sector, Worth also detailed more of the aims of the Government Technology Services (GTS) agency, which from July 1 will transfer its operations from the State Services Commission to the Department of Internal Affairs.
"The government sees the transfer of GTS to an operational agency as an excellent opportunity to develop a shared service centre for the state sector. It will allow the focal issues of interoperability, access, identity and ICT infrastructure to be soundly addressed in a co-ordinated fashion," he said.
The comments appeared to contrast with remarks made in March by then-NZ Government CIO Laurence Millar, who said the creation of the GTS unit would not the beginning of a government shared services strategy. Millar has since resigned following allegations of contractual impropriety.
Worth said the government also expected more use of common ICT services across the state sector, plus increased trust in and use of online e-government services. Currently, it operates more than 500 websites, containing more than 11 million pieces of content.
"The government is expecting to see much greater collaboration across public sector ICT services to help provide better, smarter public services to the New Zealand public," he said.
Already, the New Zealand government, responsible for 30 per cent of the country's economy, has some existing shared services projects.
There is the all-of-government portal, which aggregates government web content in one place. A public sector intranet links 100 government agencies. And one shared services initiative due shortly, is a one-stop authentication solution, with 11 agencies signed up already.
Such projects arose from former e-government strategies that aim to reduce the cost of duplication and develop best-practice.
Worth spoke further about his Department of Internal Affairs' iGovt Indentity Verification Service (IVS) project. "This is a development across government, in partnership with the State Services Commission, that will provide the public the means to verify their identity securely online when seeking services from a government agency," he said.
"It will enable New Zealanders to conduct business with government agencies more easily and in a more cost effective and timely fashion. It will avoid the costs and inconvenience of repeatedly verifying a person's identity in-person with multiple agencies and hence provide value for money for individuals, agencies and the Crown. The initial implementation of the IVS is to be piloted with Births, Deaths and Marriages in late 2009 and it will be expanded to other agencies as part of the next stage," the minister said.
In addition, Worth said his Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) department was to announce how better it could share its geospatial information with the public and businesses. A Digital Continuity Action Plan, headed by Archives New Zealand, will also involve various government agencies on how to better manage government digital information, to avoid the loss of important data.
Earlier in the day, there was a minor upset at the conference, when Edwin Bruce of the government's State Services Commission pulled out of giving a keynote speech at the last minute. An SSC spokesman said the SSC was going through 'transition' so it would be premature for Bruce to comment.
The GOVIS conference was also hit by an earlier cancellation of its usual workshops due to a low number of people registering, something blamed on the state of the economy. However, it still attracted an audience of around 200-300 IT managers, largely from the public sector.