Department of Defence

e-Government Strategy

 

February 2001

 


This strategy statement was facilitated by e-blana enterprise group

who were engaged with the assistance of funding from the Information Society fund.

 

The process consisted of structured interviews with key business and technical managers and users over the period November 2000 – January 2001.

 

 

Introduction

The purpose of this document is to present a strategy statement for the delivery of Electronic Public service for the Department of Defence.

This requirement arises from a Government decision of May 9th 2000 obliging all Departments to develop and publish a strategy statement by December 2000. This decision is on foot of a Conclusion of the Lisbon EU Summit in March 2000 in relation to delivery of the main public services by 2003 and is also driven by the Government’s Action Plan for the Information Society in Ireland published in 1999. Three Reports have been issued to date by the Information Society Commission, setting out the progress to date and the issues to be addressed.

 

2. General e-Government Context

The e-Government initiatives including the Information Society Action Plans and associated programmes including Reach, Public Services Broker and individual departmental projects, represent a substantial set of activities within government to drive e-initiatives in the public service. The publication of the "Third Report of the Inter-Departmental Implementation Group" reported on progress to date in the Information Age Action plan. See http://www.irlgov.ie/taoiseach/press for the full report and conclusions.

A number of Departments are prominent in the delivery of e-Public Services and they all operate at different levels of service.  These include the Revenue Commissioners, Department of Social Community and Family Affairs, Department of the Environment and Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. Each of these departments offers the citizen a wide range of specific services and the objectives of the initiatives is to enable the Government to provide these services in a customer friendly way via multiple access methods e.g. face-to-face, via telephone and via the web. The overall strategic aim is to enable electronic access to these services on a 24x7x365 basis, as and when the citizen requires to access them. 

The basic legislative infrastructure and potential barriers to transactions have been addressed by measures such as the Electronic Commerce Act which came into force on 10 June 2000 and created equivalence of electronic signatures and digital certification with their paper counterparts, under law, but with some exceptions.

While the transition toward automated and electronic delivery of some government services has begun, it will be a long and difficult process to achieve true e-Government. However, the initial steps as required by the Lisbon summit concentrate the focus on the main public services and it is these services that must be addressed by the present round of strategy statements.

 

The Government wishes to ensure that the public sector is seen as an enabler of e-commerce in Ireland. An ambitious agenda is being set with big challenges for central and local government, and other public bodies to look at new business models which will require reorganisation, changing work patterns and new skills. Public sector organisation e-strategies must ensure that the needs and expectations of today’s consumer are met at the same time as making management and delivery of public services more efficient.

However, there are fundamental differences between e-business and e-government, not least because the criteria for success will be different from those in the commercial sector. Put simply, the public sector cannot choose its customers. It is therefore inadvisable to apply all e-business standards across the board to government services.

Typically, e-government will fall into the following categories:

·         Intranet applications allowing information to be collected and shared in more efficient ways and enhancing communication between Departments and agencies

·         Extranets that create more efficient links with suppliers improving inventory management and driving down procurement costs

 

·   Websites that provide information to the public and allow interaction and           participation in a self-service style medium.

This is reflected in the 3-strand approach taken by the Information Society Action Plan. They are:

Strand 1 – Information dissemination

Strand 2 – Interactive services

Strand 3 -  Integrated services


 

3. Department of Defence e-government context

3.1 Present position

The Department of Defence, through a process of long term strategic planning and the work programme for Y2K, has maximised the opportunity to implement a hardware and software policy that has placed it at the forefront of modern technology, with fully matured applications in the finance and administrative areas. It has also moved a considerable way towards developing a communications infrastructure that is capable of carrying a variety of distributed applications on a countrywide basis, and is therefore well placed to deliver e-government services as they come on stream.  It has also pursued a vigorous policy of large scale electronic funds transmission, given its place as the second largest public service payroll provider, and is well on the way to achieving almost full conversion from cheque-based systems.

There has been considerable development and rollout of Intranet and Internet-based information systems throughout the civil and military Branches of the Department and browse access to the Internet is being widened on a gradual and controlled basis. The strategic objective is to encourage and develop the use of web-based information systems in as many of the business areas as possible.

In terms of e-government, the Department is already an active participant in the e-procurement project, and provides technical advice to the e-recruitment group. The Minister for Defence was selected as a key stakeholder for the e-Cabinet project and there has been a continuing involvement at management level in cross-departmental IT groups and projects.

 

3.2 Strategy and direction

The Defence Strategy Statement clearly states the goals of the Department:

“The Department of Defence is responsible for "the administration and business of the raising, training, organisation, maintenance, equipment, management, discipline, regulation and control according to law of the military defence forces" (Ministers and Secretaries Act, 1924). The Department is responsible also for the administration of pensions and associated matters under the various Army Pensions Acts, Military Service Pensions Acts and Defence Forces Pensions Acts. Civil Defence is also a major responsibility of the Department, as is the management of all State property under the control of the Department. “

(Introduction –Defence Strategy statement, 1998-2000 p.1)

 

The Defence mission is: -

 

To provide value for money military services which meet the needs of Government and the public and encompass an effective civil defence capability. “                                                                                                 

 

 

3.3  The Defence Environment

 

“In Defence we believe that we are here for the benefit of every Irish citizen. We believe also that the citizen is entitled to expect the very best from us, both in terms of what we do and how we do it. This is what we mean when we talk of customers and customer service.”

(Defence Customer Service Action Plan 1998-1999)

 

As part of the Customer Service Action Plan being drafted, the publication of material on the Department’s website must have regard to the Interdepartmental Group’s Guidelines for the Public Sector on Web publications and to the changes proposed by the Official Languages Equality bill 2001.

 

3.4  Change Initiatives within the Department of Defence  -  The White Paper

The Government published the White Paper on Defence in February 2000. The White Paper sets out the Government’s medium term strategy for Defence covering the period up to 2010 based on the evolving national and international security environment. The Government’s White Paper strategy provides a new framework for the on-going management and reorganisation of the Defence Forces, comprising the Permanent Defence Force - the Army, the Air Corps, the Naval Service - and the Reserve Defence Force. It will ensure that the Defence Forces can continue to participate in peace support missions abroad in the cause of international peace, as well as meet the requirements of the on-island security environment. A major objective is to ensure that Ireland has a world-class military organisation.

The services and supports which underpin the change in the Defence environment as outlined in the White Paper will require a substantial level of electronic information exchange via internet, intranets and extranets, and the facility to transact business by electronic commerce applications, such as e-procurement. In addition, the e-recruitment area will offer potential to streamline processes designed to ensure that agreed levels and standards of personnel are constantly available.

 

 

 While the military branches and the Defence Forces deliver most of the services provided by the Department, there is a significant public and business contact with the Department through its civil service branches.  We believe that service quality is already high, but we believe that we can do better by offering alternative methods of contact and this will be achieved through a programme of public service delivery which can be tailored to the specific requirements of the Defence customer base.

 

4.  Key Interfaces

 

In relation to the Department Of Defence, the following domain diagram indicates some of the key interfaces with which Defence interacts in the conduct of business and which will form part of the e-government process:  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5. Major Influencing Factors

 

 

The Department of Defence strategy for e-government deployment is driven by the following major drivers and influencing factors.  They are:

·         The overall e-Government initiative

·         The Department of Defence Mission Statement

·         Specific Department of Defence e-Government opportunities

·         Evolving Defence Strategy / security environment

·         Department of Defence modernisation policy as outlined in the White Paper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


6.   Defence Development Areas

 

Because of the nature of the Department of Defence’s activities, which are primarily internal or focussed at very specific user groups within the general population, it is considered that the Department should concentrate on the following application/service areas:

6.1 Citizen-Business information

It is intended to provide our electronic services to meet the needs of business and citizens, who will require high quality access to departmental service and information online. It is important that the Department’s websites are kept current, relevant and include links to the eBroker and all relevant agencies. The websites will support selective feedback and consultation via e-mail. Online interactivity for FOI queries will be implemented by 1 Sept. 2001

 

6.2 Corporate Information Services

The Departmental Intranets will continue to evolve and among their priorities will be providing up-to-date Strategy Statements, personalised staff information, Training Information, Departmental Publications, Branch Business Plans and current developments.

 

6.3 Extranet/Telecommunications

Improving communication and documentation flow between the Department and the Government Extranet will yield significant operational gains through process enhancements, efficiencies of effort, reduced duplications and error reductions.

While the range of external public interfaces is fairly contained, the DOD has a variety of interfaces of varying complexity with almost all government departments and a limited range of internal agencies.   The Department is focused on its requirement to integrate through the eBroker when requested.

6.4 e-Procurement

The Department of Finance has identified that one of the most important focus areas for e-Government, is the enablement of an end to end process to support e-Procurement. The development of a national e-Procurement strategy has begun. This will enable an approach to be adopted which best suits public sector business practice and is compatible with modern private sector business activities.

The initial phase of the project is the production of a strategic report setting out a strategic plan on the way forward in relation to all aspects of the preparation, procedures and implementation of e-Procurement in the Irish Public Service.

The Department of Defence has been selected as one of the pilot sites to be involved in the initial study and would be one of the early adopters considering the volume of transactions involved

As an interim solution a central e-portal is being developed where the Department will begin to publish tenders as soon as the site is launched.

6.5 e-Recruitment

Another area of significant importance to the Department and also to central Government is recruitment. An initial working group has been established to review how recruitment can be delivered centrally via an electronic online service. The Department of Defence provides technical input to this process.

6.6 Civil Defence / Public and Local Authorities

One of our most significant interfaces with the public is via the Civil Defence organisation. There is already commitment by the Civil Defence to utilise the Internet as an information delivery channel for its members. Having already undertaken a review to determine the current level of Internet literacy among its members, Civil Defence personnel are currently reviewing a number of options to enable their members take advantage of e-initiates. Examples of e-services could include electronic applications for membership of the Civil Defence or the provision of event information to members for the attendance at major functions.

Using the Internet as a communications channel, it would be possible to establish an Extranet between the Civil Defence and it members. The major advantage of an Extranet is that information created within the Department can be distributed, with no extra overhead, to the geographically distributed membership of the Civil Defence. An ultimate aim would be to aspire to the deliver of electronic learning materials through distance learning programs over the Internet.

It is intended to significantly enhance the Civil Defence presence on the Departmental  website by 1/9/2001.

 

6.7  e-Cabinet

This year the Department will seek to maximise the benefits of ICTs for the Minister in his involvement with the Cabinet itself and associated administrative Cabinet processes as part of the eCabinet Project.

We will assist and monitor Phase 1 of the "eCabinet" Project along with the Department of the Taoiseach, CMOD and Price Waterhouse Coopers who are set to examine existing procedures associated with the Cabinet process.

Our objective is to use electronic method of support to: -

·         streamline and improve workflow and processes

·         enhance the style and format of presentation of issues to Cabinet

·         maximise the support for participants at Cabinet Meetings

 

6.8  e-Learning and IT awareness

The emphasis will be on learning through and not about technology. It is the Department’s aim to enable its line staff to become digitally literate, its IT staff to become technically skilled and as a result be aware of and harness the potential of modern ICT’s in implementing business solutions.

 

7.     Performance Indicators

 

The following principal performance indicators will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the initiatives proposed above:

 

·         Higher quality communication and availability between the Department and Citizen/Business – ensuring that the right information gets to the right individuals at the right time.

·         Increased automation of administration and standard documentation processes freeing time for better use of diminishing human resources

·         Improved response time for queries or action requests

·         Complete end-to-end supplier/product evaluation by integrating purchasing processes with asset/inventory management and maintenance

·         Faster purchasing process from requests for tender through to delivery

·         Potential lower purchasing prices due to economies of scale achieved through centralised purchasing

·         Rationalising processes leading to increased effectiveness of staff  - i.e., less time on internal process, more time on service delivery

·         Improved IT awareness and competence of staff

·         Higher job satisfaction by providing more timely information to user base and citizen about payments, benefits and schemes in a friendly and efficient manner.

 

8.    Implementation  - the challenge

 

8.1 The Planning Process

To successfully implement e-Government there must be a comprehensive Action plan in which all relevant areas of the Department and the military will be involved.

 

The planning process must integrate business, organisation and IT strategic thinking and planning, and build on best practice from the public and private sectors to deliver results that are practical and readily implemented. A detailed requirement analysis should address the business processes, system requirements and operational constraints. Business cases for each e-Business initiative including benefits analysis, risk analysis and success factors, must be prepared.

 

Preparation of an Action Plan and driving it to a successful conclusion must be seen as a business function and not driven by technology concerns. There will, however, be a significant input required from the IT function within DOD and it will devolve to IT to show leadership in this area. Actual progress will, however, be driven and managed by the business side of the Department.

 

In order to accomplish this task, there are structural and resource issues for the Department which will need to be tackled as the e-government activity moves forward over the next two years, to meet the Lisbon objectives by 2003.

 

 

8. 2 Major Tasks

1.      Initiate and co-ordinate e-Business initiatives at a steering group level.

2.      Develop a Department of Defence e-Business Action plan by May 2001 to ensure successful delivery of departmental and government e-Business services by 2003, as required by the Lisbon Summit.

3.      Identify, as part of the annual business planning cycle, opportunities for the development of new e-Business initiatives, whether intradepartmental, interdepartmental or military and ensure that such development is carried out in accordance with central government policy and guidelines

4.      Ensure successful resourcing , including funding from central government if appropriate, of proposed e-Business initiatives.

5.      Manage and develop departmental website.

6.      Promote e-Government awareness among departmental staff through coaching and training programmes in association with Training & Development staff.

7.      Ensure representation centrally on e-Government initiatives, as appropriate, as is the case at present in relation to e-procurement

8.      Advise Senior Management through the mechanism of the IT Steering Committee on the emerging trends of e-Business and implications for technical strategies.

9.      Provide point of contact with Reach, ROS and central e-Government Initiatives.

10.  Ensure appropriate security measures are in place to implement e-Government platform.

 

9.  Critical Success Factors

These may be summarised as follows:

 

1.      Senior management commitment to the process. This is the most critical factor of all and must be expressed through active participation in the process.

2.      Awareness among staff of the potential of e-business generally, particularly the web-enablement of applications across the board, including financial and administrative.

3.      Adoption by business managers of e-government initiatives as the preferred business platform for service delivery, as such platforms and technologies become available.

4.      The provision of a robust and high capacity infrastructure using modern ICT’s to meet expected levels of  demand.

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