13 July 2011

Yesterday the Office of the Government CIO  published a revised policy for web based services across government.  “Rethink Online” outlines a structure that will provide much greater efficiency and effectiveness than is being achieved with uncoordinated, agency-specific initiatives  at present.  This will involve substantial change, initially for Public Service departments for which the policy will be mandatory, but increasingly across the State services.

UK, Canadian and Australian experiences have influenced the three “good government” objectives specified;

“Better customer experience

  • Reduced fragmentation of information and services across agencies and channels
  • Increased focus on the usability and usefulness of online information and services

Improved value for money

  • Reduced duplication in infrastructure, content and people capability
  • Better coordinated investments across government
  • More effective use of online channels to reduce the cost of service delivery

Increased strategic agility

  • More flexibility to manage changes in customer demand, technology and government
  • Increased ability to leverage capability outside of government
  • Achieving these outcomes will require government to take a new approach to its investment in and use of online channels, moving from single agency initiatives and investment toward cross-agency approaches.”

The report illustrates how currently, there are more than 600 agency websites with annual maintenance costs exceeding $40m.  This cannot deliver on the responsibility of chief executives for the efficient, effective and economical management of their agency activities.

The report confirms the NZGOAL policy by which agencies are to release information for open access and reuse. It refers to the new ways of adding value to public data that flowed from the mashup competition last year, although there is no reference to this year’s ‘Mix and Mash’ now underway.  The report outlines the need to cluster, share skill, concentrate technology, partner with third parties and measure business value. Agency intranets will be absorbed into websites, with the information they contain being recalibrated for public use.

“Rethink Online” is a reminder to agencies of the duty  to make information progressively more available, as specified in section 4 of the Official Information Act.