Speech - The Future of Government ICT

  • Nathan Guy
Internal Affairs

Good morning. It's great to be here with so many ICT professionals from both the public and private sector.

I have apologies from the Minister of Finance Bill English, who is very interested in this subject and wanted to be here, but unfortunately has commitments in Auckland this morning.

It’s not often that we have the opportunity to get so many Chief Executives, Chief Information Officers, and ICT industry thought leaders in one room together.

If we could harness all the brain power and innovation sitting here today, we could transform government and work wonders for New Zealand.

And that is exactly why we’re here today.

This morning I’m very proud to launch the new Government ICT Roadmap. Before I get to that though, it’s worth reflecting on how we’ve got here, and some of the success we’ve had along the way.

Minister’s thoughts on ICT

In 2008, when this Government came into office, we recognised that ICT offers huge potential to deliver government services more efficiently and effectively. Doing a better job with less has been one of our key goals.

We also knew we needed to have better oversight of the $2 billion dollars the Government spends every year on ICT.

We formed a committee of Ministers, chaired by the Minister of Finance, to set the direction and oversee our investment into ICT.

We’ve had some very interesting discussions and come up with some important principles that I’d like to share with you.

As Ministers, we want visibility. We want to see and understand big projects early on in the process. We’re also interested in having independent oversight of larger projects.

Clear goals and quick progress are also important.

In the past, a number of large projects have taken years to progress from business case to delivery. By the time they’ve finished, the problem has evolved or the solution has become outdated.

Ministers have talked about what we like to see in business cases. In my opinion, there are several key features a business case should have:

  • A strategic context
  • Value for money
  • Strong timelines for delivery
  • An exit strategy if the project isn’t delivering.

We’ve discussed different ideas around funding, such as partial government funding for shared service-type models. We’ve also discussed the idea of making smaller payments more frequently for projects, once key milestones have been met.

Directions and Priorities for ICT

These discussions helped us produce “Directions and Priorities for Government ICT,” a major new framework which was adopted by Cabinet in October 2010.

This has five clear objectives:

  • to provide clear leadership and direction,
  • to support open and transparent government,
  • to improve integrated service delivery,
  • to strengthen cross-government business capability, and
  • to improve operational ICT management.

It requires agencies and officials to work together:

  • to better manage their ICT investment,
  • to improve services to the public and businesses of New Zealand,
  • and to recognise the critical place of online service delivery.

We also recognised that leadership was crucial. We redefined the role of the Government Chief Information Officer, and asked officials to work on proper oversight for this project.

To this end, a group of senior Chief Information Officers was selected to form the Government ICT Council. We have been lucky to have Sam Knowles as the independent Chair, bringing his skills and experience to the table.

The Directions and Priorities for ICT require that government has a roadmap for its intentions.

ICT Roadmap

This roadmap, which we are launching today, has been developed by government agencies, for government agencies.

This is not a fixed plan, but something that will be constantly reviewed and will evolve over time.

As we know, ICT is an area that moves and changes very quickly. We can’t pretend to know it all, and we have to be flexible.

In the past, government engagement with the ICT industry happened through a rigid procurement process, where all the requirements were predefined and locked in.

Now we are asking government officials to engage with the ICT industry early – ideally, as soon as possible after identifying a need.

This engagement with industry must be inclusive, and open to all who have innovation and value to add.

The Government ICT Roadmap provides a vehicle for agencies and industry to collaborate and innovate. It makes clear our intentions, but allows room for us to be guided and shaped by industry.


The initial focus is on common ICT capability. These are ICT services that are made available to the whole of the state sector.

This includes network and infrastructure services, but will increasingly include services that improve the inter-operability of governments systems.

The end result of this will be better services for the public, at a lower cost.

Another area of focus is the sharing of business systems.

Rather than purchasing systems independently, the government would prefer that agencies work together to buy systems that can be more widely used. I’m pleased to see this is increasingly happening.

Within the Department of Internal Affairs, the CIO has established a team that is working alongside the Ministry of Economic Development’s procurement reform programme.

We also want to see greater partnership between government and the ICT industry to question, develop and evolve our plans, and to build capability.

As part of this increasing engagement, today I am also pleased to announce a new programme called, “Open Door to Innovation.”

This programme, which we will be piloting for one year, includes a standing invitation to the industry for product and service concept proposals that align with the Roadmap, and demonstrate real value.

We will ensure that these proposals are carefully considered and that feedback is provided for each. We believe this will be useful to industry, giving them more of an insight into the needs of the public sector. 

You can read more about this at www.ict.govt.nz.

This will complement other procurement work being done, including that by the Ministry of Economic Development. They are doing excellent work streamlining and standardising processes and contracts.

Successful programmes

I want to acknowledge some of the early successes in this area involving cooperation between industry and the public sector.  

For example, all-of-government contracts for desktop and laptop computers, as well as multi-functional print devices are estimated to save taxpayers around $60 million dollars over the next five years.

126 agencies have already signed on to the desktop and laptop contracts, and 86 are getting their printer hardware through this syndicate. These agencies are all receiving better service, for less money, than ever before.

We’ve seen good success with “one.govt”, the common government data network, which has achieved 134% growth in the last year and is reducing costs to the 25 agencies involved. We expect to see a wide range of new services on this network soon.

As part of Budget 2011, the Government announced further funding for the igovt programme.

igovt provides a common identity service, which will makes it easier for New Zealanders to access government services and also reduces costs for agencies. We now have 30 services integrated, and this number is increasing rapidly.

We’ve also announced our intention for a partnership with New Zealand Post, who will then make a version of igovt available to the private sector.

Once again, this has involved extensive engagement with private industry.

Last but not least, we have “Infrastructure as a Service”. This is a major initiative that will provide the foundation for a range of new services – the beginning of a “Government Cloud”.

We are on track to announce the successful partners next month, and by early 2012, “Infrastructure as a Service” will be a reality for 10 agencies that represent the majority of government processing and storage demand.

Again, we’ve used a highly collaborative process to ensure that our approach was right and that it could be delivered effectively and efficiently.

Finally, one of the ICT Directions is “supporting open and transparent government”. This means ensuring that taxpayers’ investment in data is able to be reused for the benefit of the economy, and society, as a whole.

Over the last year we have delivered data.govt.nz, a portal for reusable government data and NZGOAL – a licensing framework for government information.

I’m very pleased to tell you that on Monday, the Minister of Finance Bill English and I announced the Declaration for Open & Transparent Government.

This sends a strong signal that this government is serious about making the government’s public data more widely available than ever before, and unleashing its potential for the benefit of all New Zealanders.


When the Government set out Directions and Priorities for Government ICT in 2010, we knew it was a big ask.

We knew it would challenge both agencies and industry alike. But as you can see, we’ve made real and tangible progress.

Already we are seeing better services for the public, and better value for money.

While this Roadmap outlines the future of Government ICT, we’re here today because but it also requires your input to shape and realise this goal.

The future depends on all of you, and your willingness to innovate, collaborate, and take part.

Congratulations to all of you on this achievement. I look forward to sharing many more moments like this with you in the very near future.

Thank you.