NSW government set to refresh tech advisory and buying panels

Power Button

By Paul Hemsley and Julian Bajkowski

The New South Wales government is on the hunt for a new technology industry and procurement experts for the two key advisory panels it uses to help set overall strategy for public sector agencies.

Minister of Finance and Services, Andrew Constance, issued the formal invitation this week as the government prepares for its annual refresh of leading minds that make up the ICT Advisory Panel and the Procurement Board’s Industry Advisory Group.

The positions are highly sought after within industry because they provide a window into the government’s overall thinking on policy settings and a degree of influence over what kind of initiatives will be given priority.

The panels are part of a wider initiative to maximise the government’s productive use of ICT by ensuring it has it has the “right mix” of skills and experience for the next 12 months.

In order to become a part of these panels, the government is asking experts in the required fields of ICT and related procurement to submit expressions of interest for up to five vacancies including Chair on the ICT Advisory Panel and seven positions including Chair on the procurement Industry Advisory Group.

Mr Constance highlighted the government’s requirement for ICT experts “with the right experience, knowledge, skills and commitment to position NSW as a leader in the use of ICT to improve service delivery”.

The reality of that kind of commitment is that vendors and experts on the panel will need to provide objective advice to the government that goes over and above pushing their own proprietary barrows.

Even so, the O’Farrell government has gone out of its way to bring in tech industry expertise to allow it to move with greater agility in key IT areas like cloud computing and applications development so that it does not get stuck with costly legacy systems that expensive to maintain and difficult to upgrade.

The previous Labor government’s heavily centralised approach to ICT procurement was roundly criticized towards the end of its term for being largely inflexible, unnecessarily difficult to sell into and highly risk averse despite generating substantial costs for questionable outcomes.

Prominent project failures included the infamous Tcard transport ticketing fiasco, blowouts in an core system upgrade at Sydney water and persistent problems with the state courts management system that went on to produce litigation between vendors.

The experts the state government is now after are expected to provide advice from an industry perspective on areas like software and infrastructure as a service, open data, information management, ICT procurement, social media and new sourcing models.

Present membership of the ICT Advisory Panel includes representatives from Deutsche Bank, Intel, salesforce.com, CSC, CSIRO ICT Centre, Centre for Excellence in Public Sector Design, RecordKeeping Innovation, AMP and Ovum.

Mr Constance said the government will be looking for panel input for key priorities such as technical standards, working more closely with industry and future directions for ICT hardware and software.

The experts sought for the procurement Industry Advisory Group will be expected to provide guidance to the state government about how to improve the way it deals with the private sector and provide “innovative approaches” to government procurement.

“It has accomplished a great deal, particularly on a framework for government agencies to engage with the market in an innovative and transparent way,” Mr Constance said.

The government will accept expressions of interest for both the ICT Advisory Panel and the Procurement Industry Advisory Group until 20th December 2013.

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