Australian article on privacy being at the top of the Agenda for public sector agencies

February 25, 2014 |

The Australian in Predictions 2014: Snowden fallout to put privacy at top of agenda higlights the privacy implications of 3 developments in technology within the public sector; cloud computing, mobile and big data.

It provides:

PRIVACY will be front of mind for public-sector agencies at all levels following the fallout from whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations.

The Immigration Department inadvertently revealing the personal details of about 10,000 asylum-seekers was a recent example that will spur the Abbott government to tighten processes to prevent privacy lapses.

“The really big risk (in government) is privacy,” said Kevin Noonan, Ovum public-sector research director.

Mr Noonan said the Snowden saga focused international attention on privacy and once heads of state started apologising for “lapses within bureaucracies, then you know this is going to be a big issue that isn’t going to go away any time soon”.

Delays in the Commission of Audit’s report – now due next month instead of the first phase in January – is a challenge for industry as “people need closure”, he said.

The commission will examine the scope for efficiency and productivity improvements across all areas of government expenditure.

Outgoing Capgemini Australia chief Paul Thorley said the commission’s report needed to be “radical and look at real structural reform”.

“It’s an opportunity to reset the economy towards significant growth … it needs to drive towards a courageous budget,” he said.

According to ITNewcom’s 2013 IT market study, Australia’s top 200 public and private sector IT spenders will outlay approximately $36 billion, nearly 1 per cent, or $36 million, less this financial year on technology and related services as budgets come under pressure in Canberra.

Mr Noonan nominated three main technologies that government should “just get on with” implementing.

They are cloud computing, mobile and big data.

“There’s an inevitability about these three technologies … there is no debate any more that these are big and strategic technologies. In 2014, they’re just going to have to get on and do it,” he said.

The standout is cloud technologies which have captured the hearts and minds of every tech chief in the public and private sectors.

For government, the benefits in efficiency and cost from cloud technologies has turned the procurement on its head, as witnessed in Victoria.

Victorian IT Minister Gordon Rich-Phillips said one of the principles that underpinned the state’s ICT strategy was “getting away from big bang, whole-of-government projects”.

Mr Rich-Phillips said that while Victoria was “certainly not going to move to a cloud-based email system across 35,000 desktops in government tomorrow”, trials were under way to test cloud technologies.

He said the government had been buoyed by the $6.5m expected savings reaped by using Salesforce.com’s cloud software at the Department of State Development, Business and Innovation.

Mr Rich-Phillips said that while the cost savings served as a good example for other departments, the flexibility of buying and using off-the-shelf products that were scalable as the department’s requirements changed was a “very powerful” proposition, “as opposed to having a dedicated and custom-built (application) which could take a year to build,” he said.

He found Salesforce to be “very flexible to scale up or down” as required.

Mr Rich-Phillips is not a fan of a “cloud-first” policy because “it might be interpreted as cloud-only”.

“Cloud is a great opportunity and we’re very keen to do innovative solutions (with it) but we also need to look at things on a case-by-case basis.”

He said while the government was “very enthusiastic about the opportunities cloud presents”, he did not want to risk labelling it as cloud-first.

Mr Noonan said Victoria and NSW “have been putting a lot of work into getting their governance right” and were both “gathering steam” in the ICT stakes.

Both have clear IT strategies, with Victoria heading for a refresh in April for the 2014-15 updated strategy.

Mr Rich-Phillips said he was happy with the current strategy as “we’ve hit all the targets that were set … the 50 or so targets with time frames that have been achieved as required”.

“We’re tracking very comfortably on it,” the minister said.

Mr Noonan said while Queensland had a clear IT strategy, it required “consistency in leadership and strength of leadership”.

Queensland poached South Australia’s chief information officer Andrew Mills last month.

Leave a Reply