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Address to ITANZ - Our e-government objectives.

27 July 2000 Media Statement
Address to ITANZ – 8.15am - Wellington
Our e-government objectives.

Thanks for the invitation to speak to you today.

ITANZ represents an important segment of NZ business. Many of you here already do significant business with the public sector. That sort of partnership is set to continue as we pursue our goal of an effective e-government.

Today I want to discuss e-government at four different levels:

 The big picture– where does e-government fit with government goals?
 The immediate future.
 The medium-term.
 The relationship between the Government and the private sector.

The big picture
One way of describing what the Government intends to achieve from its e-government programme is a transition from an industrial age government to an information age one.

Here we are simply calling this change ‘e-government’. In Britain they talk about modernising government in America they have reinvented government. Whatever you call it, the core features of e-government are the same – harnessing information and communications technologies to change the way government operates to deliver better government to people.

That's what our e-government vision is all about. The vision states "New Zealanders will be able to gain access to government information and services, and participate in our democracy, using the Internet, telephones and other technologies as they emerge."

It's about making sure that governments are more relevant; it's about governments delivering better information and services; it's about people using modern technology so that they can have more of a say in the way things work. In other words e-government is about the future of democracy.

We are on a quest for better quality and trying to find ways to get taxpayers more bang for their buck.

Does this mantra of quality and efficiency sound familiar? It should do – it is the same issue being faced by businesses as they enter the world of e-commerce/e-business.

Of course government faces different incentives – it is not so much the threat of being “Amazoned” that has prompted our e-government initiative. Our chief motivation is the chance to promote the future of our democracy.

How does e-government fit with government goals?
Our key government goals are, among other things:
 To implement a policy platform which reduces inequality, is environmentally sustainable, and improves the social and economic wellbeing of all New Zealanders.
 To restore public confidence in the political integrity of Parliament and the electoral process.

The ideas behind e-government support government’s key goals on many levels. An effective e-government will help close gaps in society by tackling the complex issue of the digital divide. When we talk about tackling the digital divide we don't just mean reducing inequality between the rich and the poor but also between town and country. E-government will mean a more transparent political system because of easier access to government for citizens.

At the practical level, e-government has a very direct relationship to the Government’s e-commerce strategy. The government sees this as a critical area for small to medium sized businesses and has a work programme in place. It includes:
 Developing an e-commerce strategy.
 Hosting an e-commerce summit in November.
 Introducing an electronic transactions bill which will put commercial transactions on a technology neutral basis.
 An e-procurement programme.
 And the telecommunications inquiry to ensure that the platform for e-commerce is right.

The here and now – what is going on?
The e-government programme officially started on 1 July 2000. Right now, an e-government unit is being established at the State Services Commission. The State Services Commissioner is taking overall accountability for the e-government programme, and an advisory board of public sector chief executives, local government and private sector representatives is being formed to support the Commissioner.

Local government involvement in this is critical. The line between central and local government is blurred in the public's mind – they want solutions – they don't want to quibble about who is going to put things right. When someone wants a pothole fixed, can't figure out their tax form or don't want a factory built next door to them they couldn't care less whether it's a local or central government issue. They just want action.

At the department end, chief executives are gearing up to sponsor a variety of e-government projects. These projects are the foundations for e-government. They will help pull agencies into e-government. The projects include:
 Introducing a common framework of data and information systems management policies and standards for agencies. These are essential for integration of services and supporting infrastructures.
 Developing a government-wide meta-data system. This will be a key to making government information more accessible to all New Zealanders.
 Installing a secure electronic environment (extranet) for government agencies to deal electronically with one another.
 Building a portal strategy for New Zealand Government Online
 Developing and implementing a government-wide e-procurement strategy. This is an important issue for me. A coordinated e-procurement strategy should mean lower costs for government but more importantly it’s the magnet to pull small to medium businesses into the e-commerce world.

The medium-term
So, we have the vision and we are kick-starting some projects - but we lack the e-government strategy. Our next task is getting that developed. The State Services Commission has started work on the e-government strategy and the Government wants it in place by Christmas.

Development of this strategy will involve central and local government, the private sector, communities and individuals. It will be a living strategy, which can adjust to meet the rapidly changing environment. Once in place we will address some of the bigger and more complex e-government challenges and opportunities we face. These include:
 Integration of service delivery across multiple agencies.
 Carrying out interactive transactions via the Internet.
 Rationalisation and integration of the ‘back office’ infrastructures of government while supporting multi-channel entry into e-government.

The e-government strategy will identify ways of breaking down the information silos, which have formed around government agencies. We expect to see a new culture of collaboration where agencies will be required to work together to achieve their e-government goals. Nobody will be exempt from this.

I want to make it clear that e-government is not one big, complex IT/data management project. At its heart it is the next generation approach to managing government, to a new public sector culture and to public management in New Zealand.

What does this mean for the private sector?
The key word when you think of e-government and the private sector is 'partnership'. In some ways it will be the same type of relationship that exists now, where many of the people in this room are involved in supplying a wide range of ICT related goods and services to government agencies.

As we move forward, however, the Government sees that relationship intensifying and there will be spin-off benefits for industry.

I am pleased that the ITANZ executive and officials at the State Services Commission are working on ways to closely involve ITANZ as a key stakeholder group in e-government strategy development.

I do anticipate, however, that there will be some significant changes in the environment into which the private sector is delivering.

Through the introduction of a range of common policies and standards some of the guesswork of how best to manage data, and to design and manage information systems will be taken away. This will be seen most obviously in areas, such as:
 Government use of the Internet.
 System interoperability (both technical design and data and information management).
 Security.

At the same time your businesses must anticipate dealing with more discerning and demanding clients. Products will increasingly have to meet requirements driven by policies and standards. You will find that your are increasingly dealing with multiple agencies wanting to collaborate in the design and implementation of shared strategies, systems and services.

There may be new ways that we can work together where there is sharing of risks and rewards between parties, rather than the current contracting models that we tend to employ as a matter of course.

However, one of the objectives of this government is to rebuild the core public service. There will still be many opportunities to contract out services but we have to restock our own intellectual wealth and institutional knowledge. We will want to strike a balance between private and public provision.

Finally, I’d like to touch on the fact that there has been some discussion of there being an e-government gravy train about to be put on the tracks. While it is true that the Government spends a massive amount on ICT’s every year, I wish to dispel any notions that we are about to spend lots more as we implement e-government.

Delivery of e-government is premised on the fact that we can achieve a much higher return on every ICT related dollar that the Government spends. This will be achieved through three things:

1. Taking an evolutionary approach to e-government. We will not be dumping all our current ICT investments and putting in new e-government systems
2. Increasing collaboration between agencies in the use of ICT investments and, most importantly, the delivery of services.
3. Significant rationalisation of what is currently a very fragmented, and therefore wasteful, back office infrastructure in government.

What we want to do is deliver citizens better value for money.

Conclusion
I think that we are entering a hugely exciting time for New Zealand, and for your industry.

It is the Government’s intention that, as well as delivering better government to New Zealanders, we will become internationally recognised leaders and model users of information and communications technologies.

E-government will provide business opportunities, new ways of working together and strengthening of the business community. We want to work with you to deliver the best possible e-government solution for New Zealanders.


Thank you for your time.

CONTACT

kerry.lamont@parliament.govt.nz

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