The Office of Information Technology (OIT) was established on 1 January 1998. It was built on the strategies of the Government Information Management Division of the Department of Public Works and Services. The role of the Office was to provide central integrated strategic focus within NSW government for the use and development of information technology across and between government, industry and the community.
The Office was originally a business unit in the Premier's Department until 8 April 1999 when it became one of four major business units of the Department of Information Technology and Management.
A major responsibility of the OIT was to develop a framework for the reform of the management and use of information technology in the NSW public sector. The Information Management and Technology Blueprint developed a uniform approach for electronic service delivery within the State. The implementation of the blueprint was supported by a program of guidelines and memoranda that was endorsed by the Government Information Management Board. The office monitored the Information Technology Strategic plans of the various agencies to determine that they were aligned with Government Directions and strategies, and where possible information sharing between related agencies was encouraged. Government agencies were required to submit larger technology proposals (valued at $500,000 upwards) to the Government Information Management Board to ensure the consistency of projects with Whole of Government objectives. The cost effective purchase of quality programs was fostered by the Government Selected Application Systems (GSAS) in which software for applications in common use in the NSW Public Sector were selected by a tendering and contracting process. A common platform was developed for the agencies which employ mobile radio communications (such as emergency services) Strategic carrier agreements were developed to enable cost effective telecommunications.
In December 1997 'Connect NSW' had been launched to utilise the internet for the delivery of services. Guidelines were developed for information audit, inventory and classification and for information custodianship, copyright, licensing, privacy and confidentiality. A Government website 'Service New South Wales' was launched in January, 1998 as the 'single-window to all NSW Government websites'. The scene was set for the development of electronic commerce including identifying necessary legislative change and streamlining service provision, making government purchases on line, and fostering electronic business in the business community. The creation of 'networked communities' enabled electronic service delivery to regional areas in New South Wales which were technologically under resourced. In 1998-1999 the office had prime responsibility for the Year 2000 compliance. The Y2K Project Team took responsibility for the 'whole of government' readiness and for reporting on agency performance in meeting specific targets established by the Government. (2)
In 2001 the OIT described its role as follows: "The Office advises the Minister for Information Technology, the IT (Information Technology) Sub-Committee of Cabinet and the Chief Executive Officers' Standing Committee on Information and Communications Technology and Management about policy, strategy, projects and resource issues relating to information and communications technologies. It is also the State's principal agency for managing inter-governmental Information and Communication Technology issues and initiatives." (3)
New South Wales Government Telecommunications Services Agreements eliminated the need for individual agencies to tender for these services which were also available at reduced cost owing to economies of scale. Agreements covered services as diverse as telephone contracts to data services.(4)
The Information Communication Technology (ICT) Skills Action Plan was launched in March 2001. The aim of the Plan was to raise the skill levels of the community so that New South Wales would continue to develop as an online economy. (5)
In August 2001 Cabinet approved a risk management program for protecting the information assets of the various agencies. OIT monitored agency compliance with this program by periodic surveys and external penetration testing and it issued guidelines on information security including the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information in computer and communications systems. (6)
connectingBusiness, a component of the connect.nsw program, was developed to improve the efficiency of government services to business. The Licensing and Registration (Uniform Procedures) Bill 2002 enabled the implementation of an across government online occupational and licensing system that replaced 70 separate agency systems (although postal, telephone and across counter systems remained available). (7)
The NSW Telecommunications Strategy : Broadband for an information society was issued in September 2002. (8) The Shared Corporate Resources Strategy to enable public sector agencies to significantly improve corporate services delivery, realise the benefits of technologies and reduce costs had deliverables commencing in March 2002 with implementation due at the end of that year. (9) BookshopNSW was introduced in 2002. This enabled the publications of participating government agencies to be purchased or downloaded from a single site that also listed government events and forums. (10)
On 2 April 2003 the Department of Information Technology and Management was abolished and the Office of Information Technology was transferred to the newly-established Department of Commerce (11) where it became known as the Office of Information and Communications Technology.
The Office of Information and Communications Technology comprised: Electronic and Network Services Improvement; Strategic Direction, Governance and Corporate Services Reform; Emergency Services and Sector Projects; Government Licensing Project; and, Human Services Better Service Delivery Program. (12)
In November 2004 the Office of Information and Communications Technology was abolished when the Department of Commerce was restructured and the position of Government Chief Informaton Officer was established. The Office of Information and Communications Technology was succeeded by the Government Chief Information Office within NSW Procurement. The Government Licensing Project and the Human Services Better Service Delivery Program then reported separately to Service Improvement. (13)
(1) Report of the Premier's Department for the year ended 30 June 1998, p.49.
(2) Ibid., p.53.
(3) Office of Information Technology website http://www/oit/about_OIT.asp (accessed 26 February 2001).
(4) Department of Information Technology and Management annual report for the year ended 30 June 2002, p.51.
(5) Loc. cit.
(6) Ibid., p.52.
(7) Loc. cit.
(8) Office of Information and Communications Technology (OICT) web site http://www.oict.nsw.gov.au/content/1.5.Telcos.asp (accessed 1 December 2004).
(9) OICT web site http://www.oict.nsw.gov.au/content/3.6.Strategy.asp#A2a (accessed 1 December 2004).
(10) OICT web site http://www.oict.nsw.gov.au/content/7.2.bookshop.asp (accessed 1 December 2004).
(11) NSW Government Gazette. Special Supplement, 2 April 2003, p.4331 no. 35 (1).
(12) NSW Department of Commerce, Annual Report, 2003/2004, p.33.
(13) NSW Department of Commerce, Annual Report, 2004/2005, p.10.