The New Zealand government is spearheading a new procurement initiative to save agencies time and money when sourcing web services from an approved panel of service providers.
This Common Web Services (CWS) initiative is being managed by the Department of Internal Affairs – the government’s lead agency driving ICT procurement and policy reforms.
This CWS initiative, unveiled earlier by New Zealand’s Minister for Internal Affairs, Chris Tremain, streamlines the administration’s procurement and tendering process for web services.
These services encompass government informational web sites that do not require complex integration with other databases or transactional systems, including payments.
Minister Tremain said the CWS initiative enables agencies to more readily engage online expertise from an approved list of 42 service providers.
He added that agencies requiring web-related resources will be able to select from a panel of service providers. This service enables agencies to “complete minimal paperwork, and get on with the job of providing government information and services online.”
The panel of web service providers is comprehensive. It is supported by a diversity of company types, and includes New Zealand owned and operated small-to medium sized enterprises with specific expertise, as well as larger companies that offer a wider range of services.
Tina Sutton, General Manager, Government Information Services, Department of Internal Affairs, told FutureGov Magazine there are two parts to the CWS initiative. These two parts comprise a Web Professional Services Panel and a Common Web Services Platform.
The Web Professional Services Panel procurement was completed in September 2012. Seven panels were established for the Web Professional Services component: information architects, usability advisers, website testers, front-end developers, graphical/visual designers, website technical writers, and accessibility consultants.
Six agencies have signed up for the Web Professional Services Panel. Several others are in the process of doing so. There are 42 service providers across the Web Professional Services Panel; some service providers are on multiple panels.
The Common Web Services Platform project will announce successful respondents within the next month (1st week of December 2012). This update includes details of the underlying technology platform.
Conservatively, the New Zealand government invests over NZ $40 million a year on online channels, according to Sutton. For example, agencies across the New Zealand government use approximately 50 different types of distinct content management systems.
“This has resulted in duplicate investment in web projects and platforms across agencies,” Sutton noted. “The CWS project will reduce the costs to government of the procurement design, development, and maintenance of informational websites.”
Using a common platform also means that many aspects of quality and compliance with government policies and standards will be taken care of. These include compliance with the New Zealand government’s web and security standards and the Public Records Act.
A cross-agency working group earlier developed the vision for the CWS initiative. This working group included representatives from the Department of Internal Affairs, Treasury, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Culture and Heritage, Ministry of Social Development, Crown Law, Treasury, Inland Revenue, Ministry for Primary Industries, Maritime NZ, PHARMAC, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Ministry of Transport, and NZ Transport Agency.
In other developments, the New Zealand government is evaluating the viability of offering a “Government On-line Engagement Service.” This initiative will enable agencies to tap into a common service and on-line capability with which to engage with communities on policy development and other matters.
Other projects include redeveloping the newzealand.govt.nz web site, and moves to publish the NZ Gazette Online, and in real-time. It is expected that the rebuild of newzealand.govt.nz and Gazette Online will use the Common Web Services platform.