Prime Minister John Key told a business audience today that he is "shocked" by the state of many government IT systems.
"I've actually been shocked at how obsolete many public sector IT systems are, and how big the challenge will be to upgrade and modernise them." "
He made the observation at a speech about improving the public service to the Auckland Chamber of Commerce today, where he also announced the establishment of the new Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
Key says that part of improving public sector efficiency will be upgrading IT and he wants to see "technology used to create a step-change in customer service".
Key announced 10 challenges for achieving a new "results-driven" focus for the public service, the last two of which are technology related.
The ninth challenge is about "improving interaction with government". It will involve a one-top online shop for all government advice and support for New Zealand businesses. The lead minister is Steven Joyce and the lead chief executive is current Ministry of Economic Development CEO David Smol.
The tenth is "challenging results for the public sector to achieve over the next three to five years", so that "New Zealanders can complete their transactions with government easily in a digital environment."
ICT and Internal Affairs Minister Amy Adams has been designated as the lead minister for this goal and Peter Mersi, acting chief executive of Internal Affairs, as lead CEO. However, his responsibility lasts only until April 16, when Colin MacDonald takes over the position.
MacDonald has a record of achievement in government ICT. While in his present position as chief executive at Land Information New Zealand, he has led the cross-government programme for data and information re-use and established LINZ as the lead agency of the geospatial information sector.
"New technology provides easier and more cost-effective ways for New Zealanders to engage with government," the Prime Minister's statement says. "Technology also contributes to a public sector where there is continuous innovation and improvement, as it delivers on the expectations and needs of New Zealanders.
"The public sector provides significant services to businesses and individuals, and the quality and speed of these services makes a difference to businesses' ability to perform, grow and export," the statement concludes.