Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Summary of take-aways from the Driving Interoperability and Collaboration in eGovernment conference

A frantic day catching up yesterday, so I did not get to write this post until this morning.

On Monday I presented at Ark Group's Driving Interoperability and Collaboration in eGovernment conference in Brisbane.

There was a great line-up of speakers, and I had a long list of take-aways from the day.

Here's my key ones. Note these reflect my perception of the speakers' topics - not necessarily the words they used.

Overall takeaways
  • There's a lot happening across the egovernment front at all levels of Australian government, with enormous benefits beginning to be realised for the government, for constituents and for business

  • egovernment initiatives still remains highly siloed, with little information being shared between governments, departments, or even within agencies

  • virtually all state and federal governments recognise the need to follow whole-of-government approaches, but are doing so only within their own governments, not across jurisdictions in a co-ordinated and managed way

  • Enormous cost and time benefits could be realised with more centralised co-ordination (not control)

By speaker

Kim Denham
(CEO Australian Computer Society)
  • Broadband is a critical utility for Australians.
  • It's crucial to ensure that Australia has an appropriate network in order for long-term national success

Dominic Feik
(Director Business Services, Dept of Innovation, Industry and Regional Developments Vic)
  • A successful business case is a good story, supported by evidence, relevant to stakeholders

  • Storyline is critical - provides structure for the case

  • Use case studies to build a picture of the outcomes

  • Create and manage a stakeholder list - develop a clear strategy on how to influence and engage key decision makers (sometimes has to be from a distance)

  • Use 'guided' rather than 'blank slate' consultation

  • Number one reason for project failure is if the wrong people/skills are attached to the project team

  • Other reasons for failure include:
    - Poor consultation
    - Poor research
    - Too much focus on implementation, not enough on business case
    - Searching for benefits in the wrong places

Gary Shaw

(Director Information Queensland)
  • QLD government has a state-wide address verification system, usable across state government websites, intranets and applications (I want one at Federal level!!)

  • QLD has done a fantastic job in developing a geospatial system - involving collaboration across many government agencies.

  • There is insufficient collaboration across Australia government
    Qld invested $7.5 million in a geospatial display system (building a metadata atlas and other tools),
    WA invested $26 million in a similar, but separate system (more bells and whistles),
    NSW is looking to invest in such a system - separately
    Vic is looking to invest in such a system - separately
    Federally AGIMO is investing in such a system

    Surely Australian government only needs one such geospatial system - open enough to support the needs of various states and levels of government, and provided/managed centrally as a national public good.
    This would support the needs of businesses and individuals to deal across council and state borders, rather than requiring them to use separate tools for separate jurisdictions.

Tim Turner
(Lecturer at UNSW@ADFA)
  • Government has focused on a 'one-size fits all' approach to online, but recently moved into portals based on demographic ('youth', 'family') and 'live event' models ('moving home', 'starting school').

  • While AGIMO indicates that 60% of the internet using public has visited a government site at least once in the last twelve months, there is not much detail on how/why they visited or how frequently.

  • Key limiters to government engagement online appear to be (from AGIMO):
    Usability, navigation and content
    Knowing what can be transacted (promotion)
    Wanting to deal with a 'real person' (little work in Australian government on real-time online contact via video, audio or text)

  • Government also needs to considered the relationship that constituents have with government.

  • Identifed four key relationships/roles:
    Customer - single-session interactions, commercially oriented, no identity requirement, expects the same experience whether public or private organisation providing product/service

    - multi-session interactions, relationship orientated, 'professional' engagement, identity required, expects the same experience whether public or private organisation providing product/service

    Citizen - single-session interactions, about business of government, preference for anonymity, no commercial alternatives

    Subject - multi-session interactions, usually initiated by government, heavily rules/procedural based, identity required, no commercial alternatives

  • Government services (process/tone/approach) need to take into account the relationship the constituent has with the service - people shift from one relationship/role to another across different engagements.

  • For transactional engagements (Customers/Citizens) - improve usability and appearance of trustworthiness

  • For relationship engagements (Clients/Subjects) - improve usability and evidence of justice

Jonathan Gray
(Senior Researcher, NICTA)
  • Some great tools now coming out of NICTA

  • Seeking government agencies to partner with to pilot pre-commercialisation of IT-related solutions

Jo Bryson

(Executive Director Office of eGovernment, WA)
  • Ongoing need to break down silos within and between organisations. Critical factors in doing so are;
    - Awareness and understanding
    - Consultation and engagement
    - Promotion

  • Need to share information, not withhold it

  • Is a significant mental shift for many long-term public servants, but a necessary one for effective governance

  • ICT will only realise true business benefits with a business-centric approach NOT technology-centric

  • WA has developed a great set of checklists for Ministers' offices (PDF) and Secretaries to appropriately question CIOs to ensure that business value is top-of-mind (great tool - should be used nationally!)
Medicare Australia
  • There is real business value in electronic transactions over physical ones
  • Physical network accounts for less than 25% of Medicare's business

  • Estimated that move to electronic transactions has effectively reduced Medicare's necessary headcount by 50% (compared to headcount required if all processes remained manual)

  • Implemented ability for customers to check their interactions with Medicare online (publicly available but not yet being promoted)

  • Has developed a national medical backbone for providing and billing services across GPs, specialists and hospitals (ECLIPSE), which has enormous benefits for the health sector (but is largely invisible to constitutents)


  1. Graig - great post - thanks for the round up of a conference that I had not even heard about till now. I particularly like the round of the money being spent on geospatial platforms - 10 million here and 20 million there, all the states and the fed's doing there own thing. It is especially frustrating when you see it from the inside - large funding programs doling out money to small groups to do great work, but no tracking of what they are spending money on as long as they get the work done. No thought to pooling money across all the program to get better deals from vendors - every person for himself. Quite frustrating.