Ontario government launches new supply chain organization

The Ontario government is forming a new supply chain organization to streamline its IT procurement processes.

Besides implementing best practices, the new organization will enable small and mid-sized businesses to participate more effectively in government procurement, said Wayne Arthurs parliamentary assistant to the Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet.

Arthurs was addressing members of the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) at the ITAC Ontario AGM in Toronto, Tuesday.

Arthurs said enhancing and streamlining procurement is one of the key steps being taken by the Ontario government to better manage its investments in information technology.

Other recently announced initiatives include an exhaustive horizontal review of IT across government, and the appointment of a special task force to study ways of improving management of major IT projects.

“Large scale IT projects are extremely complex,” Arthurs said. “We must make sure (they) are well governed.” He said the task force’s report on best practices would likely be available early next year.

While its recommendations will ensure “we’re doing things right” when it comes to large IT projects, the horizontal review process will ensure “we do the right things,” he said. The review, he said, would also identify the most cost-effective way of supporting delivery of public services to the taxpayer.

Arthurs also reiterated the government’s commitment to building a common infrastructure, common applications, and integrated services across the Ontario Public Service.

He said IT plays a crucial role in enabling the Ontario government deliver on its five key priorities: success for students, healthier Ontarians, prosperity for people, strong communities, and a stronger democracy for the people of Ontario.

He said a great deal had already been accomplished in each of these areas. As a proof point he referred to TownHallOntario.com, a portal that enables Ontarians share advice and ideas with the government. “I foresee a time when we may be able to hold referendums online, and perhaps even have the option to vote online.” Arthurs also cited the example of Healthyontario.com – the government’s health information Web portal that was named the best government/law website in the world by International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. The portal won a Webby Award, the world’s most prestigious Internet awards, that’s been hailed as ‘the online Oscars’ by Time magazine.

Arthurs said more than 80 per cent of Ontarians approve of the government’s emphasis on technology. “Half of the people of Ontario believe their main form of contact with government in future will be through the Internet and e-mail access.”

The government’s goal, he said, is to work with public sector partners, as well as technology experts in the private sector to do things better, more efficiently and more cost effectively.

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