Auditor-General's overview

Realising benefits from six public sector technology projects.

During the past 25 years, information and communication technology (ICT) has become integral to how we work, enjoy leisure activities, and receive services.

Partly because of advances in ICT, people who use public services expect them to be delivered faster, cheaper, and more conveniently. ICT can help public service providers to meet these expectations and has become essential for delivering many of these services, such as tax collection, paying benefits, and recording land titles.

Furthermore, as part of the better public services agenda, the Government wants public entities to use technology and digital channels more, so that people can access government services more easily.

It's important to note that introducing new technology doesn't automatically bring better results. We see better results when technology gives people the power to do things differently, as it's people who get better results, using ICT.

You could be forgiven if you thought that ICT-enabled projects are costly and don't achieve what they were meant to. We usually hear about the failures, but many public sector ICT-enabled projects have successfully realised benefits.

In this paper, we look at six public sector ICT-enabled projects that range in cost from a few hundred thousand dollars to tens of millions of dollars. We highlight some of the features of the projects' management that have led them to realise benefits successfully.

Above all, the projects show the need to manage benefits realisation dynamically. This need continues beyond the formal life of the project.

In my view, this paper identifies practical and useful factors that should be considered carefully when planning to realise benefits through ICT. I hope that, by sharing these factors, we can help other public entities to better realise benefits and achieve better results.

I thank the public entities whose projects are featured in this paper for their co-operation and help. I also thank Dr Miriam Lips, Professor of e-Government, School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington, and her team for their advice and help.

Signature - LP

Lyn Provost
Controller and Auditor-General

22 June 2012

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