It’s been three years since Irish e-government efforts came in for a pasting by their government auditors but it’s now back up and on the agenda again. A helpful post on Silicon Republic by John Kennedy on 17 November 2011 reveals the latest plans by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin TD. The plans are perhaps more joined up and thoughtful, although the Republic of Ireland is a smaller nation than England or the UK, than the confusing mixture of projects going on over here (a colleague at the CLG recently reported a current lengthy list of pan-government projects with some ICT input).
Whilst the UK CIO sees its central government CIO’s leaving on a regular basis, and the Local Services one is being supported by the private sector, Ireland is now appointing a Public Services CIO Council. Similarly, whilst Government Cloud is on the UK strategy and the Public Sector Network being procured, matters have slowed as some government departments appear reluctant to partake and apparently being compelled by Cabinet Office if the savings are to be achieved. Ireland has plans for a “Cloud Computing Strategy” for the public service to be published at the end of the first quarter 2012 and a further proposal is to “Seek, through market exercises, to develop a compelling case over traditional computing provision for infrastructure-as-a-service (IAAS) provision for the public service”, which sounds like a PSN.
Among the examples provided from Ireland are the rollout of new services, such as the digital renewal of adult passports, the national rollout of fixyourstreet.ie by all local authorities, and planning applications and objectives are to be handled online. The major reason for the change is to reduce the numbers of those employed in public service, or at least redeploy them to the frontline.
There is also a plan for an Irish Public Services Card (PSC) which will be the key access mechanism for the vast majority of public services. All Government departments are apparently part of a current consultation into shared services being delivered across all public bodies. The project is to be led by a shared services transformation manager. Services that could be shared include HR management, finance, payroll, ICT, procurement and pensions.
There may still be some Irish lessons to be learned in England.