Government CTO claims NZ$60 million in savings

At its halfway point, the New Zealand government's IT strategy is well on the way to achieving a targeted NZ$100 million in savings.

The New Zealand government's four-year ICT Strategy and Action Plan is under review, but is well on the way to achieving its savings target of NZ$100 million, government chief technology officer Tim Occleshaw has said.

At its halfway mark, NZ$60 million in operating savings have been achieved, he told the CIO Summit in Auckland last week.

Occleshaw said IT is at the heart of the government's service transformation, underpinning Results 9 and 10 of the State Services Commission's Better Public Services program, both of which require digital engagement.

Tim Occleshaw, New Zealand government chief technology officer

While business-as-usual services are expected in government, he said, there is a parallel need to radically transform public services by "putting citizens and businesses at the centre of what we do".

Services have to be digital by design, rather than simply putting existing processes online.

"As someone put it to me, putting our existing crap online isn't going to do it."

The government has a "bold vision" of a single, coherent ecosystem supporting a radically transformed public service that transcends agency boundaries, he said.

IT leadership has to be "functional" -- focusing on service functions rather than agency processes -- to deliver a system-wide approach and integrated service delivery. That change is being centrally guided but collaboratively delivered, Occleshaw said.

Connected information and connected platforms are key to delivering interactions that are "digital by default".

Occleshaw said the government's identity verification service RealMe has been a key enabler of change. RealMe is used by 61 services for login, and there are more than 2 million logins in use.

40,000 logins are "identity verified" accounts, which are being used by six services including passports and StudyLink student loans, and in the private sector by BNZ and TSB banks, Occleshaw said.

As ZDNet reported in March, however, adoption of verified accounts has been much slower than expected.

The government is focusing on what it calls "life events" to construct some of its new digital services. Occleshaw used the birth of a child as an example. Previously, new parents would have to deal with multiple agencies for services, but these are now being joined up.

The transformation required would lead to changes in the way the government engages with suppliers to "co-create" ecosystems for service delivery. Tenders would be likely to be less prescriptive, because defining them to the nth degree constrains innovation.

"It's not the way we want to go forward," he said.

Occleshaw said the IT strategy review is expected to be completed next month with Cabinet approval, and release is expected in the third quarter.