Australian Government: Department of Finance and Administration.

2004-05 Annual Report.

Chapter 6:
Outcome 4: Effective and Efficient Use of Information and Communication Technologies by the Australian Government

Improving the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Government

A Strategic Approach to ICT Sourcing among Agencies

Finance has continued to provide guidance to Australian Government agencies to assist them in sourcing ICT to meet government business requirements efficiently and effectively.

On 18 April 2005, Finance released A Guide to Open Source Software. This guide assists agencies in considering the particular issues around open source software when developing and implementing sourcing strategies. The guide has been recognised by open source software providers, proprietary software providers and industry bodies as a practical, balanced approach to assessing the merits of open source software. The guide has attracted international interest and support. Uptake of open source software within the Australian Government is increasing, as agencies consider open source options to satisfy new business requirements or the redevelopment of existing systems. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Centrelink and the Bureau of Meteorology have undertaken high profile open source software initiatives.

During 2004–05, Finance, in conjunction with Squiz Pty Ltd (an Australian business), developed a product based on MySource Matrix, an open source content management system, to manage a part of its own web content. Finance is making an enhanced version of the product available to government agencies (including state and local governments) and not-for-profit organisations at no direct cost. This is known in the industry as “white-branding”. The Special Minister of State launched the white-branded content management system on 27 April 2005. The greater availability of this software should assist agencies to manage their web content more effectively and efficiently. As at 30 June 2005, thirty-eight agencies (state and federal) and not-for-profit organisations have taken it up.

On 22 April 2005, Finance commenced a review of the Government ICT Contracting Framework (GITC4), to reduce the cost of procurement for suppliers and for Australian Government agencies. There has been extensive consultation with agencies and with business in the conduct of the review, which should be finalised in late 2005. Preliminary findings have included: continuing support for an effective GITC framework; anecdotal evidence suggesting a higher than expected level of customisation of contracts by agencies; and agencies wanting a higher level of support for their ICT contracting activities.

Measuring Value Produced by use of Government ICT

During 2004–05, Finance continued to encourage the effective management and valuation of intangible capital, such as knowledge capital, by supporting the Australian Government Consultative Committee on Knowledge Capital (AGCCKC). The AGCCKC comprises senior representation from public and private sector organisations, including the accounting and actuarial professions.

On 8 February 2005, the department commenced organising the International Congress on Knowledge Capital, which will be held on 3–4 November 2005 in Melbourne and is sponsored by the AGCCKC. The congress will provide a forum for Australia and other countries to gain an understanding of the different approaches to the management of knowledge capital across the world. Finance will draw on the lessons from the congress to improve the Australian Government’s knowledge management and asset management practices.

The AGCCKC is also sponsoring the development of methodologies to value the effectiveness and efficiency of projects. Finance released an open tender for the development of the methodologies on 21 June 2005. It is expected that the project will be completed in October 2005 and showcased at the congress. The methodologies should have broad application in valuing the intangible benefits that flow to government and to the Australian public from ICT investment.

The survey Australians’ Use of and Satisfaction with E-Government Services was commissioned on 29 January 2004 and managed by Finance to assess the strength of the Australian public’s preferences when contacting government through the internet. This was the first time such a survey, covering all tiers of government, was conducted in Australia. The results of the survey were published on 21 June 2005 and confirmed that the internet has become a mainstream choice for people to make contact with government. The results will provide valuable baseline data that will assist government agencies to meet citizen and business expectations from e-government.

Between 1 April 2004 and 29 October 2004, Finance conducted a review of the Commonwealth Electronic Procurement – Implementation Strategy, which had been released in April 2000. The review examined the effectiveness of the strategy in the light of the evolving electronic procurement environment and considered options for enhancing government electronic procurement. During the review, Finance consulted a wide range of agencies and industry peak bodies and examined international practices. The review found that the April 2000 strategy had been effective, but that there was scope to increase the effectiveness of implementation of the strategy. As a result of this review, Finance published three reports: Review of E-procurement Demonstration Projects, on 5 May 2005, Case Studies on E-procurement Implementations, on 5 May 2005, and Government E-procurement – Snapshot 2004, on 7 July 2005. Finance is also developing a Strategic Guide to e-Procurement, which should be published in April 2006.

Access to Australian Government Publications and Information

During 2004–05, Finance enhanced the www.australia.gov.au website, which provides a single online access point to government information and services, for users in Australia and internationally. The enhancements made the website more user-friendly and improved users’ ability to find information and services. The redesigned website was launched by the Special Minister of State on 23 June 2005. A whole-of-government search facility, using technology developed in Australia, was also developed for www.australia.gov.au and shared use of it will be trialled across government agency websites during 2005–06.

The www.publications.gov.au website was also redeveloped in 2004–05. The redevelopment made it easier to find Australian Government publications. The redesigned website was launched by the Special Minister of State on 21 April 2005.

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