What does government need to do to influence innovation?

The greatest disrupter to government is transparency and accountability, said a minister.

By Hafizah Osman
Dec. 1, 2016


The wave of technology disruption is increasing, with the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, machine learning, artificial intelligence, wearable technology, "4D" printing, and the growth of digitally savvy employees.

Yet, the question remains: why hasn't technology innovation delivered the productivity that we are anticipating, and how can the government improve that agenda?

NSW Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, Victor Dominello, who spoke at a panel session at ACS’ Ministerial and Tech Leaders Forum in Sydney, said the greatest disruptor to government is transparency and accountability.

“If we open up more information and more data, and become more transparent, then it’s the community that will disrupt us and shape us. That’s the evolution of democracy. We need to aggressively pursue that journey,” he said.

British Computer Society president, Ray Long, said there are good practices that go into the success of IT projects. As proven by the Census outage in Australia, it is evident that much work needs to go into such government projects.

“Does that sound impossible? Maybe it is, but the success of IT projects is a choice. We need to reconsider what makes successful IT projects, fresh mindsets and actions that we know to work. We need the right people, leadership, behaviours, and choices.”

Institute of IT Professionals South Africa president, Ulandi Exner, said the missing link to this is accountability.

“Why don’t we make people more accountable for project failures? WE all make mistakes, but these mistakes cost millions of dollars and who takes account for that?” she questioned.

Dominello said this has been a challenge for the NSW government and that was the reason behind the appointment of the Government Chief Information Digital Officer.

“It’s difficult in government as there are a myriad of agencies doing their own thing. We need that central unit to know best practice. With the appointment of the Government Chief Information Digital Officer, he now has insight of the government ICT projects.

“There needs to be leadership on this. Somebody needs to own this and somebody needs to be accountable,” he mentioned.

Information Processing Society of Japan IFIP vice-president, professor Yuko Murayama, said access to data also plays a part in improving productivity.

“For example, in Japan, some hospitals don’t share information about patients. But when disasters occur, you need this information disclosed. So, privacy can sometimes be a tricky situation,” she said.

“You need a law that states privacy should be flexible during disasters,” he said.

Dominello stressed the importance of the data sharing legislation, but said that there is a fine line as data “can be used for light and darkness".

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