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Digital Opportunity Partnership Q&A

Digital Opportunity Partnership
Questions And Answers

Who is the Digital Opportunity Partnership between?
The partnership is between government and fifteen leading ICT companies. They are: Advantage, Clear Communications, Compaq, IBM, INL, Learning Centre Trust, Microsoft, NZ Post, Renaissance, Telecom NZ, Telstra Saturn, Sky Television, Taylormade, TVNZ (including BCL), and Vodafone. In time, the partnership will also include the schools in which the pilot projects are to take place.

Why have these technology companies been included in the partnership?
Government and industry have been discussing the issues around the 'digital opportunity' for the last year. In the middle of the year, discussions began to formalise with a group of industry and government representatives who had a shared vision. The formation of the group offered an opportunity to test this kind of government-business relationship. The membership of the group is by no means exhaustive – but it needed to cover each of the main technology areas such as computer equipment, software, networking and cabling, Internet service provision, professional development and content generation.

Can other companies get involved?
These pilot projects are just one element of the partnership that government has with business to address the digital divide, as well as other social and economic problems. Businesses are encouraged to suggest partnership opportunities when meeting or corresponding with Ministers or their local MPs. There will be plenty of opportunities to get involved.

What are businesses contributing to the pilot projects?
The exact contribution of the participating businesses will be identified in the service agreement contracts with the Ministry of Education. In general terms, they are contributing things like computers, Internet connections, software, training and technical support. The participating schools will be involved in the design of the pilot projects and the contracts with businesses will reflect the nature of the contribution required for each project.

What is government contributing to the pilot projects?
Government has committed $10.15 million over the next four years to the digital opportunity pilot projects. $2.85 million will be spent this year (00/01) and $2.5 million next year (01/02), with $2.4 million committed in 02/03 and 03/04 for further pilots. The Ministry of Education will oversee the project implementation and has employed former principal, Graeme Plummer as project manager.

Why have the projects not been tendered out?
Tendering processes are followed when work is being contracted out. In these pilot projects, government is working in partnership with business. As businesses are offering their products and services at reduced rates, their contribution to the projects is at a better rate than could be obtained through a tender process.

How do schools get to become part of this project?
The Ministry of Education is in the process of identifying low-decile schools in the target regions. Once those schools have been identified, the Ministry will gauge their interest in participating in their local pilot. If more schools are interested in participating than there are places, the Ministry will select the schools based on their capacity to participate in the project, technological considerations and the degree to which students are likely to benefit.

How will they receive the funding?
The funding for different elements of the pilot projects will be paid at key milestones to either the school or the business partners, as appropriate. These milestones will be identified during the development of detailed project plans so that all parties know what to expect.

When will the projects start and finish?
Preparation, such as finalising service agreements and writing software will begin now, with the projects beginning to reach schools in April this year. The pilot projects are expected to run for 2 years.

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