Ontario saves millions through IT integration

By integrating information technology (IT) initiatives the Ontario government has not dramatically only improved efficiency, it has also generated huge cost savings.

According to a Ministry of Finance release, Ontario has already saved $100 million from the consolidation of IT services and applications.

“Consolidation of more than 200 websites administered by more than 20 ministries and their agencies will save money and improve information accessibility to the public,” the release said.

IT consolidation is an important component of the government’s modernization program aimed at fostering long-term fiscal stability in the province.

And that’s a goal that’s well on its way to being achieved, according to Finance Minister Greg Sorbara. The modernization program, Sorbara recently told the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs (SCFEA), has so far identified $350 million in savings. He said in last May’s Budget, the government had committed to finding $750 million in savings by 2007-08. “We are now almost half-way to that goal.”

In addition to IT consolidation, Ontario has also realized huge savings – around $200 million – from streamlining purchasing practices. By 2007-08, the government expects to reduce total procurement costs by 10 per cent, based on current spending levels. Future initiatives include improved regulation and enforcement practices and enhanced one-stop access to provincial government information and services.

The recent launch of the ServiceOntario Web site – a platform for single source, multi-channel service delivery – is in line with this goal.

The new portal offers Ontarians “one-stop access” to government services and information through a channel of their choice – in person, online or phone.

The new site was described as the new face of government service delivery by Consumer and Business Services Minister Jim Watson. He said the portal enables Ontarians to “change their address on their driver’s licence, register a business name, and plan an Ontario holiday all in one place.”

By centralizing everything in one location, ServiceOntario eliminates the need to visit 200 Web sites, 70 call centres and over 1,500 counters to access information from three levels of government.

All it will take is a click – perhaps a few clicks – of the mouse to access relevant information and services.

Ontario’s IT consolidation program is in line with a similar federal initiative that’s also expected to generate massive savings.

Digital convergence is the high road to cost savings, greater productivity, smarter procurement processes and to making “self-service” a reality for millions of Canadians in their transactions, according to Michael Turner, Assistant Deputy Minister, Public Works and Government Services Canada, IT Services Branch.

He said the government proposes to put in place new efficiencies that save $12 billion in operating expenses over the next five years – and reallocate these funds to priority areas such as healthcare. “Increased use of shared and common infrastructure certainly seems one of the more effective ways of accomplishing that.”

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