The state government of Victoria has made significant progress towards completion of its Victorian Government ICT Strategy and is "on track" to complete 50 specific action items by the end of this year as planned, the state's ICT minister has confirmed.
Speaking to more than 350 attendees at a strategic update organised by the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), Victorian ICT minister Gordon Rich-Phillips said the government's strategy – which was opened for consultation in late 2012 and launched early in 2013 along with 50 specific actions to be accomplished by the end of 2014 – "is tracking as planned".
"The vast majority were completed by the end of 2013 and the balance are to be completed this year," Rich-Phillips said, acknowledging the success of Victorian chief technology advocate Grantly Mailes, the former CIO of South Australia, in executing on the strategy.
"We are in a very solid position regarding the targets that were set 12 months ago and we are already seeing benefits from those actions," Rich-Phillips said, noting that the implementation of the e-Services Register last 1 July had opened up government contracts to more than 800 registered companies and resulted in more than 470 let tenders in the register's first eight months of operation.
One of the items in the strategy, which involved the deepening of the government's commitment to open government data through its Data.vic site, had seen the government exceed its open-data target of having 1000 data sets online, with the delivery to date of nearly 1500 government data sets – including 700 "high-value" spatial-data sets.
"Putting that data in the public domain creates opportunities for the private sector," Rich-Phillips told attendees. "We recognise that as a government we weren't using that data to its best advantage, and we recognise that having a vibrant developer environment is the best way to make use of it. We look to you to harness the potential of that data, and to harness it to create better service opportunities."
The positive results from the implementation of the state ICT Strategy will have many interested in the updated strategy, which Rich-Phillips announced would be released in April after more than 30 submissions were received during a call for public feedback that ended on February 10.
Although he brushed off suggestions the success of the ICT initiative would drive an increased ICT spend with an eye to boosting the Liberal government's appeal in Victoria's coming November state election – "I don't see the fact that it's an election year as particularly relevant to spend," he said – Rich-Phillips repeatedly highlighted the creation of 4000 new Victorian ICT jobs and the attraction of $800m in private ICT-industry investment to the state over the past few years.
"There is often criticism of the role governments play in industry support, and quite frequently that is directed to the manufacturing industry," he said in a reference to the recent loss of thousands of jobs from the closure of Holden, Toyota and other manufacturing facilities in the state.
"I think to say that from $85 million invested into the ICT sector in Victoria through our technology plan in 2011, a large proportion of which is still to be expended, delivering $800m return and 4000 jobs created is a very good return on that investment."
The state government would continue to push for greater industry involvement in developing the ICT sector while it also continued its overhaul of CenITex, Victoria's trouble-plagued centralised services-delivery unit.
"Our project is to essentially unpack the way in which CenITex operates and put a number of those services in the private sector marketplace," Rich-Phillips explained, conceding that service delivery "is an area in which, frankly, as a government we haven't kept pace."
"It's very clear what the community expect, and cery clear that this is an opportunity to drive efficiency and effectiveness in the way we deliver services to the Victorian community. Therefore, the new ICT Strategy is going to be focused on looking at the way we look at those opportunities, and taking advantage of mobility more generally."
"We see cloud as part of that," he added. "The advent of cloud and fee-for-service models has changed the environment in which the government operates irreversibly."