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Report calls for public service IT reform

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd today released a report into the Australian public service which said that the services' IT infrastructure needed to be overhauled.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd today released a report into the Australian public service which said that the services' IT infrastructure needed to be overhauled.

Kevin Rudd
(Credit: PM's office)

The report, titled "Ahead of the Game — Blueprint for the Reform of Australian Government Administration", recommended a major overhaul of public service and information technology in the public sector, alongside other areas. The report was developed by an advisory group chaired by the secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Terry Moran.

Rudd said in a statement that the government will consider the recommendations and will respond "later this year".

Commissioned in September 2009, the report recommended that an integrated information management system be developed and implemented to deliver reforms across government departments.

It also identified a skills gap in information and communications technology (ICT) in public services staff and called for more efficient public service IT funding.

IT changes were required because of an "explosion in internet use" that has "redefined the relationship between government and citizen", according to the report.

"The impact of changes in information management and technology has led to other demands such as the 24/7 response cycle and a requirement for the Australian Public Service (APS) to improve its knowledge and information management," it said.

Echoing an inquiry made to the Victorian government in 2008, the blueprint report also advocated a more open government and access to public sector information. This, it said, would be achieved through information technology advances and web 2.0. The report gave examples of online policy forums and blogs as ways for the Australian government to work with citizens.

"Today it is often more convenient for citizens to use online mechanisms to communicate their views to government. The blueprint recommends that the Australian government become more open and that public sector data be more widely available, consistent with privacy and secrecy laws," it said.

New information technology and data collection systems were needed, according to the document, which would begin a "change management task that should not be underestimated".

The advisory recommended that a service delivery portal complemented physical locations "where citizens can access multiple services". It also advocated better integration and partnering between "government, private and community sectors" through data sharing and online forms.

"Technology would be a key enabler of this recommendation. Agencies would need to work more collaboration in the design and implementation of services across government. Realistically it will take many years to a seamless service delivery. However, it is important to establish a mechanism to drive this forward," said the report.

Another recommendation was for business software to "automatically pre-fill forms" in order to "simplify business-to-government reporting".