Michelle D’Auray used her opening-day keynote address at Gartner’s Symposium/ITxpo 2001 in Toronto to update attendees on the status of Canada’s Government On-Line (GOL) project.

In 1999, and again in early 2001, the federal government announced its intention of making government information and services available online anytime and anywhere by 2004, a date that the CIO of the federal government of Canada admitted is looming.

D’Auray said that the purpose of the GOL initiative is to offer a service to Canadians that is of a direct benefit to its users. It needs to be easy to use, organized to meet the priorities of Canadians, and should save time, effort and cost. Additionally, the completed GOL project should increase the range of service offerings and perhaps most importantly improve the quality and level of service that citizens currently experience in telephone or in-person transactions.

This, D’Auray explained, involves a change in methodology. “It’s not about doing what we do badly, faster,” she said.

The process of moving government services onto the Internet is difficult, she explained, because it not only needs to be co-ordinated across the government, but also is required to be collaborative across departments and jurisdictions. “This is big work,” D’Auray admitted. “It’s tough work.”

She outlined the five key components to the GOL initiative, which include the online delivery of key services, and a shared infrastructure, which will reduce costs and enable interoperability and cross channel integration. Other components involve a setting of policy frameworks, service improvement and a concerted approach to improving human resources.

D’Auray closed her speech with a statistic from an April 2001 Accenture report, which ranks Canada as number one in its GOL efforts among 22 nations including the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

She told the audience that a colleague pointed out that being ranked first leaves only one direction to move when the next report comes out. Laughing, D’Auray said that she’ll be satisfied if Canada stays in the top five in the next ranking, which is “a nice, typical Canadian attitude.”