Newfoundland

The Internet currently dominates Newfoundland’s information technology concerns. Harry Hutchings, the province’s chief information officer, says security in an increasingly connected world was 2000’s top challenge, while this year’s will be electronically enabling government services.

Newfoundland’s most significant IT project last year was putting vehicle registration on-line. Going live this spring, the system will be among the first in Canada, and will let New-foundlanders renew permits and pay traffic fines on-line. The e-government thrust continues this year with an integrated system for clients of health and social services programs. “We’re looking at a system that will commonly identify the clients,” Hutchings says, “but allow program-specific information to be maintained so we can get a sense of what involvement government has with these clients.”

In the next couple of years Hutchings expects to add other services, such as providing land and property information and birth certificates on-line and accepting tax payments. In its budget process this spring the province will study which applications should go on-line next.

Newfoundland’s Department of Fisheries and Agriculture is working with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans to offer Web services to common clients. “We’ve got a high level of interest from both levels of government in looking at joint delivery of information and hopefully some information capture from the fisheries industry,” Hutchings explains. The province also works with other jurisdictions through the Public Sector CIO Council. Co-operation with municipalities is limited, partly because most Newfoundland municipalities are small.

Hutchings would welcome greater co-operation with all levels of government, especially more consultation with Ottawa in funding IT initiatives. That tops his wish list for 2001. “I think we’ve got a huge opportunity to change what government does and how it does it,” he says. “I’d like to see more joint financial support between the levels of government.”

The Territories

The territories face most of the challenges the provinces do and more. One is money. Jim Hill, director of information services in Yukon Territory, names as the top IT challenge of 2000 “responding to the substantial capital budget reductions for information technology.” This year he will seek support for more IT spending. Fred Ruthven, manager of informatics in the Northwest Territories, says his big challenge this year is finding resources to implement a knowledge management strategy.

Canada’s newest territory faces unique concerns. “Our biggest challenge in the past year was just trying to develop and roll out basic administrative systems,” says Ken O’Neill, CIO for Nunavut. Infrastructure continues to dominate Nunavut’s agenda this year.

Sparse populations and long distances make communications a formidable challenge in the north. Ruthven and Hill both name high-speed telecommunications systems as major projects. The Yukon last year completed a broadband network reaching every community, and the Northwest Territories hopes this year to connect all but a couple of communities to a similar network. Nunavut relies entirely on satellite communications – O’Neill says the average community there has less bandwidth than many individual homes in the south. That makes bandwidth constraints a constant problem.

O’Neill’s other big challenge is people. Nunavut’s remoteness and a housing shortage exacerbate the staffing problem.

E-government is in its infancy in the north. The Yukon only delivers static information on the Web so far, but Hill hopes to pilot electronic service delivery this year. In the Northwest Territories, Internet projects have focussed on distance education and telemedicine. Some small service delivery projects are under way, and Ruthven hopes for an over-all strategy within a couple of years. In Nunavut costly communications and a tiny population with limited Internet access work against e-government. “I’m just not sure that it’s all that cost-effective up here,” O’Neill says.

Co-operation with other governments is especially important to Nunavut as the territory grapples with setting up IT infrastructure from scratch. The Northwest Territories, which formerly governed the area, still provides some services such as motor-vehicle registration in the new territory. O’Neill has turned to other jurisdictions for help and advice. “I can’t think of an instance where we’ve asked for infor-mation or help and not been supported,” he notes.

The items topping the CIOs’ wish lists leave no doubt about their chief challenges. “The enhancement and expansion of data communications in the north that are affordable and reliable” is Ruthven’s wish. O’Neill hopes for solutions to the problems of staffing and bandwidth. And Hill asks for “greater recog-nition and support for investing in IT as an enabler for electronic service delivery.”

Prince Edward Island

Being Canada’s smallest province can be an advantage. “We’ve been able to partner with the federal government in a number of areas where other provinces have not,” says Bill Drost, Prince Edward Island’s CIO, “perhaps because of the smaller scale. We are a microcosm of a larger province. Who’s easier to partner with? The one that’s the smallest, with the least amount of risk.”

Co-operating with municipal government is also easy for a province with only two sizeable municipalities. For instance, the province supported Charlottetown’s Smart Communities initiative, part of a federal program. Still, Drost would like more IT co-operation with all levels of government.

Nor has size stopped P.E.I. from completing IT projects that compare well with those of other provinces. At the GTEC awards in 2000, P.E.I.’s Tele-Hospice program, using technology such as videoconferencing to help terminally ill people spend their last days at home, took a gold medal. Its 911 Geographic Information System (GIS) database project, which pinpoints the origins of emergency calls, took bronze. “We felt two medals going to a small province with limited resources was quite a coup,” Drost says.

This year’s key project is a comprehensive e-government plan. P.E.I. has put its motor vehicle registry on-line and built an integrated justice system offering judges access to court reports and other materials. Now Drost wants to evaluate what other services can be offered electronically and define clear priorities.

Drost’s toughest management challenge is finding and keeping skilled IT people, especially in the face of competition from private employers.

And what tops Drost’s CIO wish list in 2001? “Traditionally, each department went off and did their own thing when it comes to information technology, and we have not had a corporate IT vision,” he says. “It would be my wish that we could work together and develop a corporate vision for technology.”

Nova Scotia

New Year’s Day 2000 came and went with little incident, but Robert Mackay, Nova Scotia’s deputy minister of technology and science, and chair of the province’s business technology advisory committee, says re-balancing IT priorities in Y2K’s wake was the greatest challenge last year. “Capital was begged and borrowed to devote to the issue of Y2K,” Mackay says. “The result was that other issues were put on the back burner.” In 2000, it was time to get back to those other concerns.

The next priority is developing a business technology strategy. Having identified business drivers for its IT strategy, he says, Nova Scotia will move this year to define standards, policies and architecture on which to base future IT directions.

Those directions will include e-government. The province already offers on-line procurement information to potential suppliers, posts job opportunities and renews vehicle permits on-line. Co-operation with other governments pervades Nova Scotia’s e-government approach. The province is part of Atlantic Canada On-line, a four-province project to offer government services on-line for a fee. The province also works with Ottawa and municipal governments on the Information Economy Initiative, which includes computers for schools, improving universities’ computing facilities, and expanding broadband fibre networks through the province.

In an innovative form of co-operation with municipal governments, the province has established ERP software from SAP AG as a province-wide public-sector standard. This brings both levels of government volume purchasing deals they could not obtain alone.

One of the major challenges will be recruiting, Mackay says. To that end, number one on Mackay’s wish list this year is “a well executed human resource strategy. Without that, we’re not going to get anywhere.”

New Brunswick

Look at New Brunswick’s electronic government initiatives, and the province seems about as advanced as other jurisdictions. “We’ve tackled all those electronic transaction type services that were quote unquote easy ones,” says Lori MacMullen, New Brunswick’s CIO. MacMullen believes her province is better positioned than some, though, because it has paid lots of attention to building an integrated back end. “We’ve got the infrastructure there,” she says. “The incremental cost of putting something on-line will be small, but the benefits will be greater.”

MacMullen is not sure what IT project will stand out as the most important of 2001, but expects it will be related to e-government. For instance, New Brunswick is developing an on-line business registry and plans to revamp the government’s Web presence.

No one project emerges as last year’s most significant either, but again MacMullen says e-commerce initiatives were among the highlights.

As for challenges, one stands out not just for 2000 or 2001 but as an ongoing issue that has been around for several years. “That is the struggle with managing a resource across departmental and organizational boundaries that fundamentally doesn’t care about departmental and organizational boundaries,” she says. IT does not fit neatly into the traditional compartments of government departments, and MacMullen believes dealing with that reality will be one of her chief preoccu-pations as the province’s CIO for some time.

She also mentions the challenge of convincing public sector managers that IT can help them achieve their goals. It’s with that in mind that MacMullen settles on one of the more imaginative wish-list items proposed by public-sector CIOs. “I’d like to be able to talk to somebody who lived through the Industrial Revolution and had a chance to influence the outcome,” she says. Such a conversation might shed some light on how to make the most of the Information Revolution.

Quebec

The greatest information technology challenge facing the Quebec government will be the same this year as last, says Bernard Beauchemin, directeur g’n’ral de l’inforoute gouvernementale. That is coping with technology’s growing role in government. “In the past the interface between the citizen and the government was not based on IT,” Beauchemin says. “The arrival of the Internet changed this.”

Thanks to the Internet, businesses and consumers expect more direct interaction with their governments. Quebec is trying to deliver. For instance, a single Web site will provide those planning to start businesses in Quebec with information from multiple government agencies. Another will let citizens provide change-of-address information once and have it passed on to all relevant departments.

“It will take three to five years to have complete electronic services,” Beauchemin says. First will come more on-line access to government information, followed by electronic transactions such as issuing permits. While some functions will remain separate, the goal is to integrate on-line services where possible, so people deal not with many separate agencies but with one government.

Quebec shares IT information and ideas with federal and provincial counterparts through the Public Sector CIO Council, and is beginning to work with municipal governments. Beauchemin says he would like to see more co-operation.

Beauchemin says his greatest IT leadership challenge is changing the culture to provide integrated electronic services. “Up to now each ministry and organization developed its own programs and its own systems,” he says. “It was a silo approach. The citizens and enterprises are requesting that government not ask them to manage the internal complexities of government. They ask that government arrange between its own organizations to simplify their lives.”

As for the top item on Beauchemin’s IT wish list, it’s simple. To deal with IT’s growing role in government and manage its use for maximum benefit, he needs one thing – “more time.”

Ontario

In 1998, Ontario approved a government-wide information technology strategy. “This strategy was all about building capacity in the Ontario government to deal with information and information technology,” says Scott Campbell, Ontario’s chief information officer. “Our biggest challenge in 2000 was to implement that strategy, which involved building capacity and building blocks to implement that strategy while at the same time keeping the lights on.”

The strategy emphasizes electronic service delivery. “By 2003,” Campbell says, “we will be a world leader in delivering services on-line, and we will use IT to transform our large public-sector services such as justice, health and education.”

Existing e-government initiatives include Ontario Business Connects, providing a single point of contact for businesses, and Service Ontario, offering services to individuals on-line and through kiosks, call centres and walk-in facilities.

“The challenge for 2001 is to put in place the necessary people, technology, services and so forth to support electronic delivery and our large public systems,” says Campbell.

In the next two years, Campbell wants to move away from silos to integrated e-government. He also envisions more on-line financial transactions. “By 2003, both individuals and businesses will likely pay taxes, renew licenses and pay for permits on-line.”

Like counterparts in other provinces, Campbell believes citizens want all government services in one place on-line, so governments must co-operate. Ontario also shares information with other provinces and Ottawa on technical issues facing them all, through the Public Sector CIO Council and other groups.

Campbell’s top management challenge is familiar to any CIO. “Top of the list is developing our human resource capacity, the ability to attract and retain the people with the right skills.”

People top his CIO wish list too. “My wish for 2001 – and 2002 and 2003 and onward – is that we continue to attract, retain, motivate, challenge and reward our IT professionals in this organization.”

Manitoba

For David Primmer, Manitoba’s acting chief information officer, the biggest challenge of 2000 was “maintaining momentum and interest in information technology in the post-Y2K lull.” In 2001, Primmer expects the spotlight to be on delivering government services electronically. “Fundamentally, we’re faced with changing the way we deliver services,” he says, “and I think we have to become more citizen-centric.”

Manitoba is moving in that direction. Primmer lists several on-line projects, including a Land Titles Survey Index, a database of family, housing and education services, a personal property registry and a day-care information system. Expanding the day-care system will be one priority for 2001, Primmer says, and soon he hopes to put more education and training services on-line.

An upgrade of the province’s SAP system was the top project of 2000. “What could have been horrendous went fairly smoothly,” Primmer says. He hopes to say the same about 2001’s top project – upgrading desktops to Windows 2000 and evaluating the need for accompanying hardware and application upgrades.

Manitoba’s IT co-operation with the federal government includes involvement in Ottawa’s Community Access Program and Smart Communities Initiative. Primmer says Manitoba is a leader in the federal-provincial Information Protection Centre. “I think these programs are good,” Primmer says, “but I think we really need to expand on the co-operation between the levels of government.” The province has no co-operative IT projects with munici-palities.

Primmer thinks his major challenge of 2001 will be achieving what he also cites as number-one on his CIO wish list: wider understanding of IT’s importance. “My wish would have to be that senior management and the elected officials understand the value of IT, that they understand that it’s an integral part of doing business,” says Primmer.

Saskatchewan

Telecommunications and on-line services are top IT priorities for Saskatchewan. Lynn Oliver, the province’s CIO, says the major IT project and greatest challenge of 2000 was developing plans for extending the province’s tele-communications infrastructure to provide high-speed access for government, schools and health-care facilities. The focus in 2001 will be on implementing that connectivity plan.

At the same time Saskatchewan has made a start on electronic service delivery. Pilot projects in 2000 explored accepting credit-card payments for government services and offering “single-window” access to information and government databases on the Web. “We plan to move to the next stage by developing a government on-line strategy and identifying within the strategic plans of departments what services can be delivered on-line,” says Oliver. “We have two targets. One is by 2002 to have all paper-based forms on-line, and the second is by 2004 to have 90 per cent of all trans-actions that occur between the government and the public on-line.”

“We’re exploring with the federal government ways we might jointly develop on-line services, ” Oliver adds.

She sees the Public Sector CIO Council and the annual Lac Carling conference of government IT leaders as key vehicles for inter-government co-operation, and expects they will be the basis for evolving those relationships further in the next couple of years. Despite a good deal of information sharing with federal and provincial gov-ernments, Oliver notes, “we have a lot more work to do to expand co-operation with municipal governments.”

What will Oliver’s greatest management challenge be in 2001? “Working within a collaborative model and managing the development of a co-operative approach to standards development and project implementation,” she says, “including implementation of a connectivity plan and on-line services.” Top of her CIO wish list, she says, is rising to that challenge.

Alberta

For Alberta’s CIO, the chief challenges of 2001 will be the same as those of 2000: maintaining and extending the province’s information technology infrastructure while addressing citizens’ demand for more government services to be delivered electronically. “The two really fit hand in hand,” says Rob Stoddard, “managing the desires and needs of our citizens and having an infrastructure at home that can meet those needs.”

“The year 2000 for the Alberta government was really a planning year,” Stoddard says. “We spent a lot of time coming up with a corporate IT strategy called Managing for the Future. We’re now taking that to the next step by developing an action plan.”

In 2001 Alberta will proceed with its SuperNet initiative, aimed at wiring the province with optical fibre over the next three years, and One Window, a plan to deliver many government services electronically.

Today Alberta provides information about motor vehicle registrations electronically, though it does not process registrations on-line. On-line vehicle registration is a priority, as is land-title searching, Stoddard says. However, plans aren’t definite. “We’re studying which systems can be live in the next year,” he says. “We haven’t stated which ones will be available.”

Much of Alberta’s co-operation with other governments revolves around these plans. Stoddard says the province has talked with some federal departments about their needs for faster connections to rural areas of the province, which dovetail with SuperNet. He hopes to work with Ottawa and with municipalities to provide one-stop shopping for services provided by multiple levels of government.

Stoddard expects his big challenges for 2001 to be prioritizing IT projects that compete for limited resources and finding the skilled IT people the government needs. At the top of his wish list are more capital funding for infrastructure projects and a clear, comprehensive information technology plan.

British Columbia

British Columbia CIO Stuart Culbertson sees the same IT challenge this year as last. “The winning formula for us will still be to convince the managers in government that IT can provide a solution to the challenges that they are facing rather than being a big cost centre,” he says.

In 2000, IT helped with the challenges of education as B.C. completed its Provincial Learning Network. “This made us the first jurisdiction in Canada and perhaps in all North America to have connected all our schools and learning institutions to the Internet,” Culbertson says. “That’s not 99.9 per cent, that’s 100 per cent of schools.”

This year the province will move aggressively on electronic service delivery. With more than 100 electronic services in place, Culbertson says, the next step is to link them into a single portal. At the same time he hopes to roughly double the number of services offered on-line by the end of 2001. “We’ll also be very aggressive in what I call silo busting,” he says. He will look for pro-jects that cross ministry lines, such as a government-wide change-of-address system.

He believes B.C. makes a good test bed for new services because of its high level of connectivity. He wants to explore pilot projects with municipal and federal governments to provide integrated e-government services. “We’re being pulled constantly in this direction by the taxpayers,” he notes.

Culbertson’s primary IT management challenge this year will be to promote IT’s importance within the government. His num-ber-one wish: To have more of the business managers of government that ‘get it’ with respect to how IT can be a benefit, not a cost.

The Territories

The territories face most of the challenges the provinces do and more. One is money. Jim Hill, director of information services in Yukon Territory, names as the top IT challenge of 2000 “responding to the substantial capital budget reductions for information technology.” This year he will seek support for more IT spending. Fred Ruthven, manager of informatics in the Northwest Territories, says his big challenge this year is finding resources to implement a knowledge management strategy.

Canada’s newest territory faces unique concerns. “Our biggest challenge in the past year was just trying to develop and roll out basic administrative systems,” says Ken O’Neill, CIO for Nunavut. Infrastructure continues to dominate Nunavut’s agenda this year.

Sparse populations and long distances make communications a formidable challenge in the north. Ruthven and Hill both name high-speed telecommunications systems as major projects. The Yukon last year completed a broadband network reaching every community, and the Northwest Territories hopes this year to connect all but a couple of communities to a similar network. Nunavut relies entirely on satellite communications – O’Neill says the average community there has less bandwidth than many individual homes in the south. That makes bandwidth constraints a constant problem.

O’Neill’s other big challenge is people. Nunavut’s remoteness and a housing shortage exacerbate the staffing problem.

E-government is in its infancy in the north. The Yukon only delivers static information on the Web so far, but Hill hopes to pilot electronic service delivery this year. In the Northwest Territories, Internet projects have focussed on distance education and telemedicine. Some small service delivery projects are under way, and Ruthven hopes for an over-all strategy within a couple of years. In Nunavut costly communications and a tiny population with limited Internet access work against e-government. “I’m just not sure that it’s all that cost-effective up here,” O’Neill says.

Co-operation with other governments is especially important to Nunavut as the territory grapples with setting up IT infrastructure from scratch. The Northwest Territories, which formerly governed the area, still provides some services such as motor-vehicle registration in the new territory. O’Neill has turned to other jurisdictions for help and advice. “I can’t think of an instance where we’ve asked for infor-mation or help and not been supported,” he notes.

The items topping the CIOs’ wish lists leave no doubt about their chief challenges. “The enhancement and expansion of data communications in the north that are affordable and reliable” is Ruthven’s wish. O’Neill hopes for solutions to the problems of staffing and bandwidth. And Hill asks for “greater recog-nition and support for investing in IT as an enabler for electronic service delivery.”



Related Download
Create a Unique Selling Proposition for Your Global Market Sponsor: EDC
Create a Unique Selling Proposition for Your Global Market

Register Now