Guidance but no policy on New Zealand gov’t offshoring

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – The State Services Commission has issued general advice to government agencies on the factors to consider when deciding whether to outsource ICT processes overseas but does not plan to issue firm guidelines.

The SSC is mindful that government agencies make their own independent decisions on ICT and other business matters. “We’ve provided guidance on how agencies might think about the question in a general sense, but the decisions are their own responsibility, in terms of the State Sector Act,” says SSC spokesman Jason Ryan.

Because agencies make their own decisions there are no overall statistics on how much government work is hosted overseas, Ryan says.

However, the guidance may be refined as agencies give feedback, he says. The “interim guidance” document is meant as a draft and interested parties have been invited to post further comments on the e-government site’s blog or by email by December.

“It’s interim guidance because we think it’s a very good start but it’s not perfect and won’t be without your input,” says SSC’s Lindy Siegert on the blog.

“It’s not new policy. It’s not formal enough even to be guidelines. Our only strong recommendation is to take a risk management approach and you were doing that anyway, right?”

The document outlines 10 points to be considered when evaluating a proposal to offshore government ICT work. It points out the risk of espionage and the possibility that agencies’ and clients’ privacy may not be as respected in other jurisdictions as they are under New Zealand law. It also considers detailed operational matters as business continuity.

“A government agency must be able to access the records, systems and services it needs to continue operating in the event of a service provider failure, infrastructure failure, government intervention, etc., in [a] foreign jurisdiction,” says the document. It recommends agencies look to the policy the Reserve Bank has established regarding the offshoring of ICT for New Zealand banks.

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