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ACT govt slammed for lack of IT strategy

Australian Capital Territory Greens IT spokesperson Caroline Le Couteur has slammed the ACT Government's shared services provider InTACT for having no IT policy plan in place and for being slow in adopting new technologies.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor on

Australian Capital Territory Greens IT spokesperson Caroline Le Couteur has slammed the ACT Government's shared services provider InTACT for having no IT policy plan in place and for being slow in adopting new technologies.

As reported in the Canberra Times today, Le Couteur said in an estimates committee last week that she was "truly shocked" when she was informed during hearings in March that InTACT did not have an IT strategy in place.

Le Couteur had asked in March whether there was an IT strategy in place. When she received a negative answer to her question on notice, she was shocked.

"IT is essential to the ACT Government; so it is essential that we have an IT strategic plan," she said. "With a good IT strategic plan and current technology directions, as well as being a more efficient government, we could also be a more cost-effective government."

There was not even a commitment to have one before the end of the 2010/2011 financial year, she said.

After highlighting the lack of an IT strategy, Le Couteur moved on to detail the many things she believed were wrong with how InTACT went about its business.

"IT I think, even in the ACT Government, does have a seat at the senior management table, but it is not managing to sell a vision effectively," she added. "The pressure does seem to be just to get along with minimum budget and not have any embarrassing system failures."

She was critical of the government's inactivity around trialling thin client. She highlighted a commonwealth government audit report that noted power savings of up to 83 per cent during thin-client trials.

"The report found that the added benefits of zero or thin client technology were that refreshment of the desktop computers was not required as often and, of course, because you are using less power to run those desktops, you do not need to use as much power to cool the office," she said. "You do not need to use as much air conditioning."

"Sadly, however, in the estimates hearings, InTACT admitted that they had not done any modelling of the impact of thin clients," she added. "They were concerned, they did say, about possible impacts on the network but they did admit they had not actually done any modelling on this."

Google Maps for bus timetables could also be a great improvement for ACT commuters, according to Le Couteur.

"All you would have to do to use it would be to provide our information to Google in the format that they want," Le Couteur said. "This would make it a lot easier for people in Canberra who are trying to plan bus travel."

"At present, in Canberra, if you want to catch a bus, which is not your normal bus, if you are going out of your way, you could easily spend 10 or 15 minutes on the ACTION bus site trying to work out when and where you are going to find your bus."

She also berated InTACT for not giving open source a greater run.

Le Couteur did approve of InTACT moving away from its three-year life cycle for leasing to buying computers, with a view to keep them for four years, and the use of a centralised Oracle system in finance across government.

"In regard to finance services, again it is pleasing to see the Oracle system is now fully implemented, with only one instance across the ACT Government, she said. "This is another example of the savings that are possible with good IT."

(Front page image credit: Canberra at night image by travlinman43, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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