AGIMO updates strategy with 2020 vision

The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) has updated its draft ICT strategy to reflect the new focus of the agency over the next eight years.
Written by Luke Hopewell, Contributor

The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) has updated its draft ICT strategy to reflect the new focus of the agency over the next eight years.

The new vision sees AGIMO driving a co-operative IT environment across federal government agencies to offer personalised services to individual citizens. AGIMO has identified a raft of new projects to drive the government towards a more inclusive environment for citizens in 2020.

AGIMO's vision of the future says:

In 2020, our interactions with government occur seamlessly as part of everyday life.

People easily access and automatically receive a range of services streamlined ... across government and tailored to their individual needs, location and preferences.

Individuals, communities, business, not-for-profits and government collaborate more closely — all are actively involved in the conversation, and in co-designing innovative and location-aware government policies and services.

To achieve this IT-driven service utopia by 2020, AGIMO laid out a new roadmap that would see it overhaul a variety of agency platforms and engage in new ICT projects over the next three years.

New initiatives to be delivered by agencies and AGIMO include:

  • The inclusion of technology at the outset of policy development

  • A new strategy to combat the ICT skills shortage in Australia between 2012 and 2014

  • A plan to improve the "attractiveness" of ICT as a career within the Australian Public Service

  • Developing a strategy to "personalise" services provided via australia.gov.au portal

  • Investigating process automation within service delivery

  • A new GovShare repository implementation project slated for 2012 to 2014

  • Strengthening ICT governance with a new "two-pass" approval scheme

  • Considering development of "community cloud", and market approach for agencies

  • Establishing centre of excellence for whole-of-government data-analytics operations between 2012 to 2014

  • Increasing access to social media tools for Australian Public Service employees for collaboration with citizens.

These new projects and initiatives will be assessed annually at a meeting of the Secretaries' ICT Governance Board (SIGB) and adjusted as required, AGIMO said, with a report to be handed to the government on the delivery milestones at the conclusion of each meeting for accountability purposes. Despite a tweaked roadmap, however, AGIMO's core priority areas remain the same: delivering better services; improving the efficiency of government operations; and engaging openly with stakeholders.

These three objectives were outed in AGIMO's original draft ICT strategy released in 2011, along with a previous version of the roadmap that would see AGIMO raise awareness of ICT activities within government, consider the implementation of cloud computing and pilot a "tell-us-once" approach to agency information sharing, among other objectives. Since the last draft strategy document was aired, AGIMO has refined its government datacentre policy, cloud computing policy, open-source software policy and its telecommunications panel.

The updated draft ICT strategy follows a meeting of the SIGB and careful consideration of recommendations from Dr Ian Reinecke in his 2010 review of the implementation of the Gershon review recommendations, as well as consideration of recommendations from a review conducted last year by former departmental secretary Helen Williams.

Reinecke expressed concerns in his report that the strategy set down by AGIMO for whole-of-government ICT overhauls lacked firm guidance from a directly accountable agency, meaning that AGIMO would be unlikely to complete the activities set out in the roadmap, given its current position as a sub-department of the Department of Finance and Deregulation. This concern was reflected in Reinecke's discussions with secretaries, agency heads and executives.

In her report, Williams re-enforced the need for a more detailed ICT policy and an accountable agency to back-up AGIMO in its operations. In terms of the draft ICT strategy, Williams recommended that the agency identify lead agencies that would assist AGIMO in implementing key projects while working to set itself apart as a member of the Department of Finance to better establish AGIMO's identity as an ICT shop.

The review followed criticisms of AGIMO behind the scenes, which were revealed recently in documents released under the Freedom of Information Act. An unsigned memorandum dated in October 2011, and addressed to the Department of Finance and Deregulation, expressed doubts as to AGIMO's ability to fulfil its mission.

The unnamed minister was "reluctant" to sign off on the first draft ICT strategic vision document, due to the lack of "practical initiatives ... necessary for implementing change" in government ICT practices.

The minister added that the SIGB was acting as a "closed circle" that didn't accept the appropriate level of input from relevant government executives tasked with driving real change, and encouraged the Department of Finance and Deregulation to modify the discussion panel.

"It would be timely, in my view, to introduce perspectives from a wider range of sources, especially from senior executives inside and external to government. SIGB may need to retain additional sources of external expertise to complement the internal resources of the [Australian Public Service].

"Adopting this taskforce approach would, in my view, help us break out of the current mould that appears to be constraining the emergence of initiatives that improve the way we manage ICT in government. External appointments to membership of SIGB would also enhance the process of seeking wider input from business, as well technology sources of expertise," the memo said.

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