OTTAWA--Names can tell a lot about an organization. Take Shared Services Canada, the recently-formed branch that will slash the number of data centres and applications across the federal government.
Still in the early stages, it’s not really a true shared services model, Gartner analyst John Kost told a group of government CIOs and IT administrators here Wednesday. “The only thing that’s shared about it is its name,” he said, because it isn’t governed by its customers – federal departments.
What the bureau is really starting to do now is consolidate IT infrastructure under the whip of the Prime Minister, he said.
But Kost believes the way Ottawa is doing puts it among the leading governments in the world in modernizing their IT functions. And, he said, puts it on the path to true shared services.
“The wisdom of the prime minister here was create Shared Services Canada as an organization, move the people, take the money and fix it,” he said in an interview. “And that’s a positive thing. It still has lots of challenges, but the top down, one-organization-in-charge approach with that much authority can make things happen more quickly,” as opposed to trying to do things by committee in the early stages.
“I am very excited about what you’re doing,” Kost told the bureaucrats and IT administrators. The U.S. government is trying to do something similar and is “way behind you.”
Kost knows because his job takes him around the world advising governments on creating shared services models and has seen the wreckage. The Australian state of New South Wales tried twice and “failed miserably.” The government of Britain today is struggling. In Canada the department of Public Works tried in 2004 to mandate consolidation of data centres but the effort was voluntary and sunk.
On the other hand, Kost says British Columbia is one of the shining lights.
The Conservative government announced last August that Shared Services Canada’s goal is to cut the number of federal data centres from 300 to 20, the number of email systems from 100 to one and chop the 3,000 overlapping networks. It hopes to save hundreds of millions of dollars.