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Ann Steward - AGIMO
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Welcome to the AGIMO blog.  I’m Ann Steward, the Australian Government’s Chief Information Officer.  In this role I am also the Deputy Secretary of the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO), a group within the Department of Finance and Deregulation.

We’re launching a whole-of-AGIMO blog and have absorbed previous ones.

I’m sure you may be aware of some of the work we’re undertaking at AGIMO: the ICT Reform Program, Government 2.0, website policy, ICT vision and strategy and coordinated procurement.

In the last couple of years, the Australian Government has made a concerted effort to review established practices in order to improve its use of ICT.  We have drawn on two very important independent reviews.

In 2008, Sir Peter Gershon led an independent review of the Government’s use of information and communications technology for public administration and service delivery.  This report, known as the Gershon Review, provides a comprehensive and detailed analysis of a wide range of issues affecting the Government’s use and management of ICT.

The Gershon Review made seven recommendations which, broadly, pertain to:

  • improving ICT governance,
  • improving agency capability,
  • saving money (to the tune of $1 billion over four years),
  • improving ICT skills,
  • improving the ICT marketplace,
  • rationalising data centres, and
  • addressing ICT sustainability.

In November 2008, the Government endorsed the recommendations of the Review in full and initiated the ICT Reform Program, with implementation of the recommendations to be completed by the end of 2011.

Last week saw the launch of two key deliverables of the ICT Reform Program – the whole-of-government strategic ICT Workforce Plan and ICT Career Structure.  The Workforce Plan provides a high level overview of the issues affecting us as ICT professionals.  Using the Plan, agencies will be better able to attract and retain a highly skilled and innovative ICT workforce along a rewarding career path.

The Government 2.0 Taskforce was established in June 2009 to advise the Government on more open access to government-held information, driving innovation and engaging with people online.  The Taskforce completed its work in December last year.  The Government is releasing its response to the Taskforce’s report later today on this site.

One of the most exciting elements of the Australian Government’s approach to ICT reform is the introduction and use of the internet and collaborative technologies in government.  Government 2.0 proposes some really exciting opportunities to improve the way we interact with people.

Our goal in setting up this blog is to enable consultation with community and stakeholders in the work that AGIMO is doing.  I’m really interested in your views on how we can make this blog an effective mechanism for participation and consultation.  What do you want to hear from us?  How often?  What do you think of the ICT Workforce Plan?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Comments (26)

Hi Ann,

I think it is highly encouraging that the Government, and particularly AGIMO, have moved to be more accessible in the way it deals with the public, and I applaud the Govt 2.0 initiative and in particular, the idea of setting up this blog.

I have two questions for you.

Firstly, examination of the ICT Workforce Plan as released to the public revealed very little substantive action or changes that I could see. I read through what was released in my role as a technology journalist and found that in general the documents reflected something I would have expected Sir Humphrey Appleby to have put together in his seminal role on "Yes, Minister".

That is, it appeared to say a lot, without saying anything.
This is a view I have heard echoed by others who examined the document.

Is the Government planning to put together a more substantive document on workforce change, reflecting some of the real issues out there and with some concrete moves?

Secondly, I applaud recent moves by Finance to open up its use of social networking technologies such as Twitter -- in particular, John Sheridan's use of the medium.

What is AGIMO's policy towards Twitter, and will the agency encourage its staff to identify themselves on Twitter and discuss issues of Government openly with Australia's technology community?
Kind regards,

Renai LeMay

Publisher, Delimiter
Proprietor, LeMay & Galt Media

Congrats on starting a blog that is actually a blog, as opposed to the "blog" that Steven Conroy tried to set up and failed on so many counts with. Look forward to seeing conversation with the Australian govt taking place on this blog!

Great work and congratulations all around...has to be a step in the right direction and a platform which has the potential to host valuable and robust discussions.

Renai, I suggest you look a little lower in this blog. It may answer your question: http://agimo.govspace.gov.au/2010/04/07/social-media-101/

Cheers

Craig

Having been made redundant thanks to Gershon last year and going across to the private sector I'm looking forward to gov rethinking its approach to implementing Gershon's recommendations that actually achieve those objectives ... otherwise gov will end up losing all its $90p/h contractors and having to bring them back as $200p/h consultants. Doesn't quite make sense ... it's neither cost effective, sustainable or good knowledge management. Keen to see what comes of the ICT Framework & Capabilities work from the ICT Strategic Workforce Plan ...

Having been through the Gershon days, a year on and the Department I work for is trying to spend money hand over fist.

Gone are the days of impositions of a limit of contractors of 7.50 hours a day, rates increases and removal of 20% of the cream of the crop.

Quick quick, spend it all, on whatever, to make sure we don't hand any operating back because we won't get it next year. Buy some books no one will read, half a dozen $2000 chairs, sure ! Could you please as many hours a month until July ?! Let's hire a consultant for 6 weeks to do ... uhm... something ? Just USE the money people !

Government, ICT Contracting and the whole finance management of it is a debacle that should have been addressed as a priority rather than the Gershon report- that after a year of hype, everything is back to normal.

Ann

It looks pretty good. Congratulations.

I think the blog would be improved a little if you could include a time/date stamp for blog entries. It would give just a little more context.

Kerry

Ann,

The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) and its members welcome this positive initiaitive from AGIMO and look forward to continued open and progressive dialogue between the ICT industry and the Federal Government agencies.

Regards, Ian Birks

Congratulations to the Taskforce and the Government for moving towards an 'open government' policy. The big task lies ahead - convincing some of the more bureaucratic and security-conscious government agencies (and perhaps those that have skeletons in the closet) that open engagement and transparency is in Australia's best interests. I think it's a great first step and I hope that the recommendations are widely adopted by Government agencies.

Clayton Wehner
Blue Train Enterprises
Http://www.bluetrainenterprises.com.au

Ann the initiatives look good. Hope to see more of Government 2.0 use cases over at Australia and better engagement of citizens around Government.

We look forward to listening side of Government 2.0 particularly for which our product http://bubbleideas.com is designed. Is there anyone with whom we can directly engage with?

Regards,
Arvind

CEO - BubbleIdeas
@bubbleideas

Well, I keep being amazed by AGIMO and this blog is the latest example.

As you know, Anne, I have been a critic in the past. Truly, I did feel that AGIMO (and OGO, NOIE, etc) were too often behind the game and that, at times, were possibly dragging the effort down.

Now I am very confident to say that AGIMO is way ahead of the pack.

I have noticed this also through the way that agencies talk about AGIMO. In the past, there has been some level of dismissiveness in how agency web folks viewed AGIMO.

Now, the vibe and tone is 180 degrees from that. There is a real sense that AGIMO is now a good leader.

The gov 2.0 process was amazingly good. I entered it as a cynic. I was sure it was going to be the opposite of web 2.0. As history will show, it endep up being the way best example of gov 2.0 anywhere in the world.

So, this blog is now going to be right on my radar. Now to respond to your questions.

Based on the quality of the posts of late, such as the "Data about data – metadata" post (which is one of the best things I have read from gov about metadata), I would like to see as much blogging as possible. Of course, I understand that you all have jobs to do but the more you can integrate blogging into people's duties, the better.

Let us not forget that this blog has the power to not just throw out info but also to bring us, the leather jackets in the web industry and the AGIMO folks, closer together. After my gov 2.0 experience, I would love to know more about what Peter A thinks about things. In other words, I would like to get to know him better.

Same would go for you Anne. Who are you really? What have you picked up on the way since we met all those years ago in the UK Cabinet Office. Tell us. You see, in absence of hard data, us leather jackets will just make up our own minds :)

So, yes, more blogging, more AGIMO people.

You may also want to consider the really big leap and invite guest bloggers to the table. That would be an amazing message out to the agencies. That would really flesh out the engagement.

So, thanks for the blog. Thanks for the invite to participate. I will be here as often as I can to put my two cents in. I will apologise now for any offence I cause down the track :)

Hi Ann

Your AGIMO blog sets a great example and I hope it gets the ball rolling. Well, I hope we all do.

One suggestion. It might be useful to provide an option for people to indicate whether they are commenting from a citizen or public servant perspective. A handy option that might help the conversation etc.

ps. Me from a public servant perspective.

Congratulations to the Government and AGIMO and Kate Lundy for leading in this space. At last Gov 2.0 is here!

We can see momentum among government, APS, consultants. However the academic community is still in doubt with little interest in the potential of web 2.0 support in government engagement and service delivery. It is time for academics to get involved in this space and actively participate through academic reviews, qualitative and quantitative research on adoption and impacts. More on my blog.

Thanks for your input. Now, to answer a couple of questions.

With regards to the technical issues you’ve noted, as you can see, we’re onto it. We’ve added a webmaster email address to the contact page and the rest will be going up later today.

Some of you wanted more information about the ICT Workforce Plan. AGIMO is directly involved in this work but with the Australian Public Service Commission as the lead agency on matters affecting the APS as a whole, they have answered your questions and here it is :

“The aim of this first iteration of the whole-of-government ICT workforce plan was to gain an understanding of the APS ICT workforce, its demographics and capabilities and to identify strategies to develop the capability within the APS going forward. A baseline of data has now been collected, key findings identified and a core set of strategies outlined to commence developing APS capability over the next few years.

Noting that workforce planning is still new for many agencies the document was deliberately streamlined to assist agencies build their own workforce planning capability by keeping the information easily accessible and to facilitate the development of individual agency workforce plans. Agencies have access to the full research undertaken through the supplementary publications.

Real success in building ICT capability will come from agencies progressing their own planning and initiatives (refer activity 1.3.1) in conjunction with this broader whole-of-government plan.

The Commission will work directly with agencies to provide advice and support (refer activity 1.2.1) and will facilitate knowledge sharing (refer activity 1.3.3).

Noting that workforce planning is a continuous process the Commission will update and enhance the whole-of-government workforce plan on a regular basis (refer activity 1.2.4) to ensure the data is kept current and enhanced, and to monitor and report on trends (refer activity 1.2.2 and 1.2.3). The strategies and activities identified within the plan also be reviewed and tailored in line this new information. “

Renai – looks like Craig has answered your question. We also use guidance from the APSC.

This continues to be a really informative exercise. A number of you have talked about a desire for ongoing conversation. This is something that we are also keen to continue and we look forward to robust and passionate debates.

As a web design company it's great to see the public sector / government make use of blogging. It's long been a vital communication tool in the private sphere and it is important that the public sector embrace it as well.

With your goal in setting up this blog, in mind "... is to enable consultation with community and stakeholders in the work that AGIMO is doing", can I suggest;
1 We find a way to compartmentise the highly techno-speak commentary and move it off the "Home" page. It could be enclosed in a technical area (for technocrats). As a community reader of this blogg who is looking to contribute, I am lost in the detailed technical talk. I am not interested in this and too much ("folksonomy" and the like) will drain my interest in this important initiative.
2 Market a part of this site for community usage input.

Great to see a government department blogging and using Twitter with the purpose of connecting with its community! More government departments should be following your example, great work Ann!

It's a positive move by the Australian government to use blogging as a means of interacting with the public.
As an Australian registered migration agent working in Dublin, Ireland I would have really liked to have seen the Department of Immigration and Citizenship create a blog or forum facility on their website for more interactive information sharing with the general public and allowing people to have a chance to voice their ideas, opinions regarding the major changes that occurred since February this year.

It is great to see positive comments from members of the wider community coming in. We need to take steps to encourage that more widely. For example, by using the print media to encourage people to join in.

Far too many agencies are still treating blogs etc as 'just another channel'. And just most are dropping the ball when it comes to encouraging public servants to engage on line with one another and the community.

So rays of light around the public service. We need to use them to illuminate the dark corners and shift the culture of the public service in a determined way.

We also need to state clearly how we will use the feedback provided by citizens.

Steve Davies

Steve
Your comments are valid but we need more emphasis place on "community engagement" across whole of Government. We need executive to (be forced) to accept the challenges of getting the community involved in their decisions. This then needs to roll down to managers and their staff(across the board) and then we need to select champions who will run with the "community enngagement" ball! BIG ASK but it must start with commitment at the top and dedicated resources under this.

Also as a further comment, I was really surprised by Mege comments on Immigration and Citizenship. (She is obviously close to this and understand the community frustrations).

Surely Immigration and Citizenship is where "community engagement" should be entrenched. Their stakeholders are all Australians as well as the rest of the world! I would have thought they would have been first cab off the rank and leading the way in "community engagement"?

It seems like I was mistaken.

But perhaps this would be a great place to start. I cannot think of a better place as it affects us all.

As part of the debate on "saving money" (item 3 Gershon Review) have you seen the link below on the adoption of Google Apps in the USA;

Between now and then, we've opened a discussion forum as a warm up:
[http://www.govloop.com/group/googleforgov/forum/topics/should-your-agenc...

Sorry you might need to copy this link above into your browser unless this link can be made live!.

I am interested to learn if AGIMO sees its role in encouraging Government 2.0 extending to the Local Government sphere?

I have had a quick browse through the Blog, and I can't see any specific references to Local Government.

I have been trying to encourage Councils to collaborate on-line for the past couple of years, and it would be nice to be able to say that AGIMO is specifically encouraging this sort of co-operation between Councils.

Could the federal government consider sponsoring a social networking and engagement activity at the local level (where the "rubber hits the road").
A great initiative in the USA (see link below) could be replicated here with outstanding success and enthusiastic uptake.

http://bit.ly/doVi0m
15/07/10

Great idea for Transportation Authorities. Do we have any members interested in this area. Certain NSW could do with plenty of help to improve public transport.
Have a look at the attached (from USA).

"StreetFilms has produced a great video highlighting the case studies and
benefits of open transit data and how that relates to the broader
movement around Gov2.0."

If you know of a transit agency or a
developer that could use this kind of insight and inspiration, please pass it on.

http://www.streetfilms.org/a-case-for-open-data-in-transit/

(hopefully your authority will not block access to this link like mine does!)

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Last updated: 27 July 2016