To stay ahead of the pack, IT outsourcing companies working with the government need to pay attention to areas where the government's service offerings can be improved. This means IT outsourcing companies need to develop strategies that meet the government's business requirements as well as their technical agenda.
It is often a case of educating the government about the possibilities outsourcing offers, as they are not aware of how e-government can change the way they do business. For example, government-to-government is an underrated element of Government Online.
In 1997, Prime Minister Howard committed the Commonwealth Government to bring all appropriate government services online by 2001. This included services direct to citizens and businesses, as well as cross-agency services.
Government-to-citizen (G2C) is progressing nicely. As of September 30, 2000, 90 per cent of agencies reported they were on track to deliver online services by the December 2001 deadline (Government Online Progress Report 2000). This included full transaction capabilities, not just static information.
Government-to-business (G2B) activity is also dynamic, with 94 per cent of agencies already making some electronic payments to suppliers and 87 per cent of agencies geared up for online procurement activity by December 2001 (Government Online Progress Report 2000). The Commonwealth Government has set up a specific electronic procurement strategy that will allow all procurement suppliers to deal with the government electronically by the end of 2001.
Yet it is government-to-government (G2G) services, the forgotten element of Government Online, that has the potential to truly revolutionise government services and efficiencies. Without the proper exchange and analysis of accurate, comprehensive and timely information between government agencies, G2C and G2B online initiatives will struggle to provide appropriate services that are not bound to existing organisational structures.
At present, information resides in different government systems and is only accessible to particular agencies, making it difficult for the Commonwealth to provide whole-of-government services.
G2G infrastructure and processes will tie together existing infrastructure and information. Technically it is now possible for diverse systems to interact using Internet-based technologies, enabling the government to build a comprehensive profile of citizens from disparate information sources. Frameworks for government divisions such as Human Services, Administration and Revenue have been developed to bring information together in a predetermined process and environment. These "front ends" outline what information is typically shared, what technology allows this information to be shared and what political issues have to be dealt with in order to share this information.
Industry involvement in Government Online can not be restricted to providing the technology or services necessary to meet government goals. Industry needs to educate and reassure the government and the citizens about the things they most worry about.
It is essential for organisations servicing the government to understand the business processes and agency interactions, as well as the technology that can link these agencies. Knowing how the justice system works will alleviate many of the political stresses involved in G2G services, by accommodating who has access to what information for what purposes.
Given the ability to share information electronically, agencies can simplify the process for an individual in such things as social services benefits and child maintenance payments. Courts, justice services and the police can communicate more freely and in a timely fashion. G2G is not encouraging agencies to share information that they don't already. Rather, it is making the process simpler and more accurate.
Nonetheless, it will take continued education and case studies to prove it is G2G that will make services more efficient for citizens and business without interfering in individual rights and services.
Allen Koehn is the Public Sector Director of Unisys South Pacific, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org