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Platform for New Digital Future Launched

Hon David Cunliffe
Minister for Communications and Information Technology

29th May 2008 Media Statement

Platform for New Digital Future Launched

Communications and Information Technology Minister David Cunliffe today launched the structure that will become an important contributor to New Zealand’s digital future.

The Minister hosted the signing of the establishment rules for the Digital Development Council, which will in turn set up the Digital Development Forum.

“Together the Forum and the Council are expected to help achieve the government’s vision that New Zealand will become a world leader in using information and technology to realise its economic, social, environmental and cultural goals, to the benefit of all New Zealanders.

“These Digital Strategy goals cannot be realised by government alone,” Mr Cunliffe said. “They need to be delivered by a wide range of groups working together.

“The Council needs to be established first. As the operational arm it needs to get funding released and start attracting members to the Forum.

“The Forum will be the main agent in this Digital Development Group. It will be an ‘association of associations’ that brings together a range of organisations with a common interest in digital development. Its members are expected to include ICT users, professionals, suppliers, local government, and community and voluntary, Maori and cultural groups,” Mr Cunliffe said.

The Forum will set priorities, engage with Ministers and nominate future members to the Council. It will provide strategic advice and direction to the Council and government on digital matters.

“This all-inclusive group is designed to produce the best advice and work programmes possible,” Mr Cunliffe said. “It will receive some operational funding from government but will not be tied to the apron strings of any government agency.

“I am heartened by the overall response and the commitment of the ICT sector and wider interest groups to achieving our digital potential,” Mr Cunliffe concluded. “The way we are doing this is unique to New Zealand and is showing international leadership in the way digital issues are handled.”


Questions and Answers

1. Why do you consider this initiative unique to New Zealand?
The Digital Strategy has been used internationally as an example of a whole of government approach to achieving a nation’s digital potential. The collaborative approach of this model, particularly having a cross-sector group (the Forum) developing a coordinated set of priorities for digital development and a practical work programme for a delivery arm (the Council) to produce is a unique concept.

2. How does all of this relate back to the Digital Strategy?
The Digital Strategy makes it clear that reaching our full potential as a nation requires a holistic approach across all sectors. The key to success for this initiative is wide representation and collaboration. The Council and the Forum are expected to create partnerships between industry, community and voluntary groups and users.

What are the functions of the Council? (Ref. Rule 3.0)
• Engaging with the Digital Development Forum on strategic priorities;
• Seeking funding from the Crown and other sources to develop, adopt, implement and manage a work programme that addresses issues and priorities determined by the Forum;
• Monitoring the delivery of work programme outputs, agreements with funding bodies, and reporting to the Forum;
• Providing administrative services to the Forum.

What is the Council expected to achieve in its first year? (Ref. Rule 6.0)
• Appoint an independent Chair and establish a secretariat (including a GM).
• Develop a work programme and have a signed funding agreement in place with MED by July 1 2008.
• Support the establishment of the Forum by:
- Developing membership rules for the Forum;
- Approving applications for membership to the Forum; and
- Developing procedures for the operation of the Forum with the objective that those rules and procedures can be adopted by the Forum.
- Develop the principles and procedures to govern the Forum’s relationship with the Council.
• Develop membership rules for the Council to ensure members (after the initial 12 months) are appropriately representative of the Forum organisations and other interests that support, or contribute to, digital development.

3. Who is the independent Chair?
The Council members will decide on the appointment of an independent Chair.

4. Who is on the Council?
The Council is made up of the independent Chair and 10 members. The members were appointed (one each) by the Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand (Inc), InternetNZ (Inc), New Zealand Computer Society (Inc), WIT Group (Inc), the 2020 Communications Trust, LGNZ, Business New Zealand, Te Huarahi Tika Trust, the ICT industry and the community and voluntary sector. Note that members representing the ICT industry and community and voluntary sector have not been formally appointed at this time - they are placeholders.

5. Why is the Council Incorporated?
It is preferable that the Council is a legal entity so it can enter into binding contracts with third parties. An incorporated society model was selected as the best fit for the membership and aims of the organisation.

6. How do I contact the Digital Development Council or find out more?
Until the formal appointment of a Chair for the Council, Doug Martin of MartinJenkins & Associates will be the spokesperson.

Until a formal secretariat office is established the Digital Development Council number will be the toll free line 0800 336900 (0800 DDNZ00).

7. Who chose the members of the Council and who will appoint the independent Chair?
MartinJenkins and Associates were retained by MED to help implement the Council and Forum. The current members of the Council represent those organisations that have agreed to join the Digital Development Council at establishment phase. The Council will appoint the independent Chair of the Council.

What is the role of the Digital Development Forum? (Ref. Rule 12.2)
• Provide leadership and develop strategic priorities to help achieve New Zealand’s digital potential;
• Support the activities of the Council by:
- Setting strategic goals and priorities for the Digital Development Council;
- Guiding the work programme of the Digital Development Council;
Appointing persons to be members of the Council;
• Engage with the Minister and other Digital Ministers on strategic priorities.

8. Who is on the Forum?
The Forum is expected to represent the varied interests of the wider community, with representation from the community and voluntary sector, business, local government, ICT users, Maori, cultural groups and the ICT industry. A priority for the Council is to support the establishment of the Forum by developing membership rules for the Forum.

9. Who chooses the members of the Forum?
The Forum membership is self-selecting from organisations meeting the criteria set initially by the Council and subsequently agreed to and adopted by the Forum.

10. What is the relationship between the Forum and the Council?
The Forum’s job is to set the strategic priorities for the Council and monitor the implementation of an agreed work programme by the Council that supports these priorities.

The Forum will also elect members to the Council (after the Council’s first year of operation) ensuring the appointees are appropriately representative of the Forum organisations.

11. Why have you split the functions between the Council and the Forum?
The structure is a natural evolution of the consultative process around the original idea. The advice and delivery arms of the group had to be split as part needed to be incorporated in order to enter into binding contracts with third parties separate from Forum members. Further, the Forum is intended to represent a wider membership and different levels of membership.

12. How much government money is going into the Council and Forum and what will it be used for?
Cabinet has approved:
• Funding of $825,000 for each of the first two years – in years 2008/2009 and 2009/2010 – for the design, establishment and initial operation of the new structure.
• Annual funding of $400,000 from 2010/11 and 2011/2012 and out years to cover operational costs.

13. Is this all of the funding for the Council and Forum or can it get money from elsewhere?
Additional funding may come from external sources (e.g. corporate), or pooled resources from member organisations, or other sources of government funding (where appropriate).

14. What is the role of the Digital Development Team in MED?
The Digital Development Team at MED is responsible for negotiating operational funding agreements with the Digital Development Council. This is expected to be on an annual basis. It is also the lead agency responsible for coordinating and monitoring government activity to implement New Zealand’s Digital Strategy.

15. What is the relationship with DSSG?
Both the Forum and Council will have a close working relationship with the Digital Strategy Steering Group (DSSG). The DSSG is the core group of government agencies responsible for overseeing the implementation of government activity in relation to the Digital Strategy.

16. What is the relationship with the Minister for Communications and Information Technology and other Digital Ministers?
The Digital Development Forum is expected to engage with the Minister and other Digital Ministers on strategic priorities.

17. What happens to the Digital Strategy Advisory Group?
DSAG has been disestablished. The Digital Development Council may take up parts of the DSAG work plan.

18. What happens to the work that HiGrowth did?
The Digital Development Council may take up parts of the HiGrowth work plan.

19. What about the major players in the ICT industry – are they on board?
During the initial round of consultation, ICT companies - both multi-national and NZ owned - expressed an interest in exploring the concept of forming their own industry body. A meeting of major companies was facilitated by MartinJenkins in Auckland in March. The outcome of this meeting was that Kevin Ackhurst, CEO Microsoft, offered to facilitate a process of further exploring the concept of an industry body. This process is continuing. If such a body comes into existence, it will be entirely funded by industry.

A place has been held on the Digital Development Council for a member appointed by the ICT industry.


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