by Bonnie Gardiner

Victorian govt to overhaul IT

May 13, 2016
GovernmentGovernment IT

The Victorian Government has unveiled a new IT strategy that will see it update and consolidate outdated and complex and costly systems including hundreds of phone hotlines and 538 different service websites.

Under its Information Technology Strategy 2016-2020, released on Thursday, the government said it will undertake a widespread digitisation program to improve customer service and productivity.

The new IT strategy is an extension of the Service Victoria initiative introduced last year, with a $15 million investment in the initiative in the 2015 state budget.

Currently, very few transactional services offered by the Victorian Government can be accessed online, leading to the prediction in the State Budget in April that archaic customer channels were costing the state $461 million, expected to rise to $713 million by 2026, with no extra benefit to the community.

“Dealing with government websites is sometimes confusing, slow and annoying. Great customer service is a core function of any successful business, and government should be no different,” said Jennings.

“We don’t need a thousand different websites and hotlines for things like car registration and birth certificates. This is about taking away the pain when dealing with government, as well as lowering the cost.”

The state government also hopes to equip frontline public sector workers with new digital tools and capabilities to carry out their jobs and tackle complex problems. Gavin Jennings, Special Minister of State, said the Vic government wants to be seen as “employer of choice”, attracting and retaining the best staff.

The strategy’s goals around new technology included making greater use of off-the-shelf IT systems that are shared across government, with new cloud-based platforms to further support productivity.

Open data and transparency were also a key focus for the IT strategy. Plans to establish a new data agency in January 2017 are expected to help the state government facilitate information sharing between agencies, as well as addressing information management process gaps previously identified in the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

Opening up government data to the community, industry and universities will uncover hidden insights, drive innovative policy solutions and improve service delivery, the strategy said.

The strategy follows years of scrutiny of the Victorian Government’s technology initiatives, including a damning report from the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) in March. The report identified a failed infringement management and enforcement system at Victoria’s Department of Justice and Regulation involved doubling its initial budget, and extending more than five years past its delivery date, before being axed last year.

In August last year, Victoria’s auditor-general also found that around 35 per cent of the 1249 ICT projects active across the state government since 2011 went over budget and a third were yet to be completed. Almost half the projects had either missed, or were anticipated to miss, their planned completion dates.

The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) has welcomed the latest release of Victoria’s IT Strategy, with AIIA CEO Rob Fitzpatrick claiming the initiative embraces the opportunities of digital technology.

“This strategy reflects a holistic approach to modernising government. AIIA stands ready to assist the Victorian Government to execute the strategy over the next four years.”

“It is not just technology that will make the difference, but how we make use of the opportunities to rethink our systems, interactions and processes,” Jennings said in the strategy report.

“It will be an ongoing challenge to harness these changes for the good of Victorians and the betterment of government services and interactions. “