Time to crank tech competition
Aidan Tudehope: Government must re-think its competitive tech sourcing strategies
As government departments undergo their own digital transformation and focus on delivering improved citizen services, Macquarie Government managing director Aidan Tudehope says it is a timely opportunity for the public sector to re-look at everything from cultural impediments to procurement reform.
“It’s an opportunity to crank the competitive marketplace with a whole lot of different offerings,” Mr Tudehope told the Open Opportunity Canberra forum last week.
“When we think about the Digital Marketplace and we think about injecting competition in the way we procure IT, we do need to think about all the different flavours.”
Mr Tudehope says if more competition was injected in the IT procurement process, it will drive better prices, better services and better innovations.
“The IT infrastructure component and what cloud brings to government is way more than just new tech. It has the ability to have continuous improvement in the way we procure because we all know for the last 20 years the role of IT procurement has been a sad place,” he said.
“In fact, I would suggest IT procurement has made it a real challenge for many CEOs to maintain their seat at the executive table, because the way we procure IT has always been about long-term contracts – in some cases not just for years but decades.
“This really restricts the ability to inject innovation, price, competition, new service levels and new ways of doing things.”
Another element of the digital transformation process that government needs to build on, Mr Tudehope says, is improving the level of public trust in government services.
“The reality is the most important thing government has – and can so easily lose – is the trust of its citizens,” he said.
“We can talk about digital transformation, user experience, innovating in the way we deliver citizen services, but the minute government, at any level, misses a beat when it comes to security and the trust element that feeds into, we really do go back to ground zero.
“We’ve seen that in a couple of examples elevated by some Commonwealth IT failures. The reality is you have to make sure when you’re doing this transformation – not just the citizen bit – but the transformation of how we move our IT infrastructure as an enabler, we have to be very mindful of this.”
Mr Tudehope expects this distrust in government will begin to change when the Data Breach Notification is mandated from February next year, and security parameters will be non-negotiable and “baked in from the get-go” of any new solution.
According to Glenn Archer, visiting fellow of Australian National University and the former chief information officer of the Australian Government, in order for government to build trust, more rigour need to be applied during the deployment of services.
Russell Wilson, special counsel from Maddocks, suggested government needs do a better job at promoting and providing transparency around what solutions are deployed, as well as how people’s information are used.
"Government has a PR piece to do, and that's to explain to citizens the benefits of taking potential risks in order to deploy robust strategies,” he said.