E-government in Australia is quite advanced. Agencies generally have strong online presence, and citizens can interact and transact with government online at the federal, state and local levels.
Australia introduced an updated e-government plan in 2006, named Responsive Government: A New Service Agenda, that aims to build on the previous plan by placing greater focus on government security, identity management and interoperability, coupled with investment in flagship initiatives in key domain areas of government.
Following several highly publicised public sector scandals - most notably the long-term detention and deportation of two Australian citizens by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA) - the government is investing in large-scale implementations, such as the $495 million Systems for People initiative. This program involves more than 200 individual programs of work and will deliver renewed capabilities for case management, compliance, visa processing, border security and Internet services, based on SOA, CRM, analytics tools, data management, change management and training services.
The ATO is a prime example of proactive redevelopment of its core systems to meet the evolving needs of taxpayers across Australia, while providing a strong, secure revenue base for the country. Centrelink's Smart Card initiative will also generate significant government spending on new technology and services during the forecast period.
State governments are also adopting citizen-centric programs, such as the New South Wales' (NSW) People First strategic plan and Victoria's Putting People at the Centre. Citizen-centric egovernment programs are providing opportunities for high-tech and telecom companies in the areas of IT services - consulting and systems integration, CRM and business intelligence solutions, security, and storage solutions.
Areas of Opportunity
Many government departments are evaluating or replacing ageing core, legacy systems. This is providing opportunities for application development work, because many departments still prefer to undertake custom development of systems with specialised functional requirements, although in more general areas, such as finance and HR, the approach favoured is for industry-standard ERP-type applications limited customisation.
Open-source development examples are appearing in domain areas, such as justice. Legacy modernisation is primarily leading to more custom application development services, with requirement for the following skills: Business and process analysis; ERP skills and project experience; and open-source methodological expertise. This is providing opportunities for vendors to offer nontraditional implementation solutions for these activities.
Most states and territories are undertaking or have implemented shared services initiatives. While these differ widely in scope and size, they tend to focus on core IT infrastructure and corporate administrative services to gain economies of scale, raise efficiencies and yield cost savings by reducing duplication of such services. Examples include Whole of Government (WofG) shared services initiatives in Queensland, WA, as well as in departments such as NSW Health. Also in NSW, the Central Corporate Services Unit has provided information and communications technology (ICT) capabilities to small and midsize agencies across the jurisdiction for more than a decade. The ACT, Tasmania and NT have similar arrangements for their generally smaller agencies.