by Rebecca Merrett

Government ICT investment processes make it hard to innovate: Glenn Archer

Jul 12, 20132 mins
GovernmentInnovationIT Management

Exhaustive government ICT investment processes are making it time-consuming and difficult for government agencies to innovate, says the Australian government’s CIO, Glenn Archer.

Speaking at a CEDA event today in Sydney, Archer said although current ICT investment processes are important, they are slowing innovation across departments.

“What we have got essentially is quite a significant set of processes that surround getting approval to proceed with major investments and that involves both a lot of effort by individuals in agencies and can involve a lot of time. So [for] a large-scale [investment], a two pass review process will take at least a year,” he said.

“We recognise that it could slow [innovation] down. If agencies want to embark on some innovation then they may find that by the time they have actually ticked all the boxes, technology has passed them by. And we don’t want that to happen.”

Under a two pass review process, business cases are reviewed for the approval of projects that are high-risk in terms of technical complexity, workforce or schedule, and have an ICT cost of $10 million or more as part of a $30 million total project cost.

Archer said as the two pass review is a government imposed process and a decision of cabinet, it wouldn’t be simple for him look at changing it to speed up project approvals.

“If something is urgent we have a way of speeding it up for individual cases, but in general they have to go through the processes for large scale investments. That’s probably not such a bad thing,” he said.

He said there are no plans at the moment to make the approval process easier and faster. However, Archer plans to review the ICT investment principles to see if they “are up to scratch” and will start that in the next couple of months.

He will also continue to put in place guidance and support initiatives for government agencies when it comes to big data strategies and mobile frameworks.

“Where we see that the market place is changing quite quickly we will look to put in place guidance or support for them or to even recognise their efforts if they are doing it independently.”

Last month, the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) released the draft of its big data strategy which will combine government data with publicly available data.