Hello, everyone. I am very pleased to welcome you all to GTEC 2011 under this year's theme of "Connected Government: Working Together to Better Serve Canadians," a relevant theme given our current context. On behalf of the GTEC Board of Governors, which includes ICT leaders from within the government as well as a leaders from a number of our key partners from the private sector, I would like to extend my thanks to Minister Clement for kicking off this year's GTEC and highlighting that IT is critical to transforming and modernizing government and that the continued professionalism and innovation of this community is key to achieving our collective goal.
I would also like to take the time to acknowledge the winners of this year's GTEC awards, who include teams and professionals from all three levels of government across Canada, including our showcase province Manitoba, and who were recognized at the gala last night. Their accomplishments are tangible proof of the creativity, passion and excellence of our ICT community, which we must recognize more often, and which we will continue to rely upon as we transform our IT services delivery model for the Government of Canada.
So, let me begin by framing my remarks to you today with an analogy and an assertion.
You will all agree that the ready availability of motor power fuelled by oil was a major catalyst to the transformations that occurred in the 20th century, in linking people and communities, and facilitating innovation, speed of execution, and productivity. One only has to think of the impacts of the automobile and air travel. One decade into the 21st century, it is my assertion that, today, information is the new oil, and the ICT environment is the refinery, the pipeline and the pump. Our ability to harness and leverage information effectively within government, across jurisdictions and with our citizens will be the key to our success, not only in modernizing government but in improving the well‑being of society as well.
More specifically, the modernization of government can only be achieved through a modernized IT environment which connects people, information and knowledge quickly and securely across departments, jurisdictions, and links in our citizens as well.
We have a strategy. In my keynote today I would like to share with you some of the key elements of our strategy for IT modernization for the GC, which is founded on the three pillars of standardization, consolidation and re-engineering. Let me restate that using the Secretary's quote from last night: "Ruthless standardization, aggressive consolidation and selective re-engineering." The buzz from the gala last night tells me that you know that this strategy represents a significant departure from our current, predominantly decentralized IT services delivery strategy.
Our new strategy has an impact on just about all facets of our IT delivery: not only on our infrastructure, but on our applications portfolios, our respective roles, our implementation plans and methods, and our ICT culture.
Our new strategy redefines the accountabilities, responsibilities and focus of all players in this community: departmental CIOs, our cadre of CS and other professionals working in IT, departmental users and executives. All will have to adopt and realign with the new delivery model and, as a consequence, our private sector partners in ICT will have to as well.
Finally, our IT modernization strategy introduces a new Agency to our ICT team, Shared Services Canada, with a clear mandate for the delivery of IT infrastructure services to all departments.
A mandate which will allow us as a community to more effectively converge our resources and efforts, thereby accelerating the modernization of IT. Both from an IT infrastructure perspective and also from an applications portfolio perspective.
The need for IT modernization is evidenced by the current state of our aging IT portfolio. As you may recall, the Auditor General in her spring 2010 report highlighted the need for a GC‑wide strategy for the renewal of our mission‑critical systems. The AG was particularly concerned that some of our more important systems sustaining service delivery to Canadians were dated and at risk due to obsolescence. The AG wanted to ensure that we would have the capacity and funding to renew and sustain our systems portfolio. In order to assess the extent of this challenge, we recently completed a review of applications systems as well as a major study of our data centres across the GC. Preliminary observations from our applications review confirm that we are maintaining a portfolio of systems which, in addition to being less modern than optimal, is too diverse, too granular, too customized and too extensive in the administrative back office. This diversity has a number of negative impacts, including increased cost and risk of operations, as well as presenting interoperability challenges.
As one example, we enumerated well over 500 individual application components in the HR domain alone, including multiple versions of a single common off the shelf solution and many associated small application components that are "bolted on" to complement the core system. And our review highlighted similar duplicative solutions in our other back office applications, and some in the front office as well. Consider the diversity of the infrastructure supporting these individual environments. We concluded that we do have a significant modernization challenge, in applications and in infrastructure.
It became clear that renewing our IT environment "as is" would simply not be feasible. It would present an important funding impact to the GC and would most certainly not represent good value for money for the taxpayer.
We concluded that we need a modernization strategy which allows us to leverage our scale as a community more effectively; a strategy which will enable the transformation from a vertical departmental IT services delivery model to a mixed model leveraging both department‑specific delivery, cluster‑based delivery and horizontal, cross‑GC delivery. A strategy which will allow us to redirect resources previously distributed too thinly over a very broad spectrum of IT platforms in each department and focus them more directly on newer applications systems and platforms which can benefit as broad a community as possible. A strategy which will allow us to build core competencies in a focused way and develop centres of excellence more successfully across the community.
For an enterprise with the scale of the GC, these are significant opportunities that need to be pursued more aggressively in our current context of fiscal restraint.
Standardize, consolidate and re-engineer both common applications and IT infrastructure.
Transformation of the IT services delivery model from veritical to a mixed model with both vertical and horiziontal delivery will require new approaches and will take more than a couple of years. It will require that we abandon established views on how systems are architected, acquired, implemented and maintained. We can no longer pursue this one system at a time, independent of a centralized framework of standards and independent of GC‑wide architectures. It will cause us to rethink our implementation and delivery processes and our existing governance structures. It will require even more rigorous project management discipline and oversight which enable speed while preserving the quality of the outcomes.
While our current delivery constructs have served us well, today most of these are not optimized for horizontal delivery nor agile enough to keep pace with the evolution of technology.
Our collective challenge will also cause us to rethink how IT resources are utilized, deployed and shared across the GC. It will reframe IM/IT investment plans, where today the vast majority are department‑centric and specific, to a new allocation with much more shared investment focused horizontally across the GC.
While we have only just begun to tap the full potential ahead of us for horizontal collaboration, I am none the less very pleased with the collaboration that we have collectively fostered over the last years and in particular on two projects included in last night's honorees:
These projects are confirmation that clusters of departments can work together successfully to implement new collective solutions in a relatively short period of time.
So how will we pursue our IT modernization strategy in the months and years ahead? Lets be a little more specific.
1. Standardize; 2. Consolidate; and 3. Reengineer.
An example of an important opportunity which highlights the potential impact of our modernization strategy and illustrates how the key roles would be exercised across the GC is in web publishing. Let me illustrate. The GC currently maintains individual Web publishing platforms. Just about every department maintains individual Web teams, with Web masters. Because of the publication of our new standard on Web accessibility, we have been scoping the effort required to make GC sites compliant with WCAG 2.0. Our analysis has confirmed that there is also much diversity in Web content management platforms and approaches in use. Many of these are RYO, are dated and do not enable the modern publishing capabilities that are required to support initiatives such as open government, where we hope to engage with Canadians in real‑time, online dialogue. Web content management and publishing presents a very strong consolidation opportunity if we define a common standard WCMS, acquire a platform for the use of many GC departments, and re‑engineer publishing in a way which enables departments to continue to publish their content independently, using the common Web content management platform maintained centrally for all, which also provides departments with much better tools for streaming video, for two‑way dialogue, for enabling and testing for accessibility, and so on. How much resource could be freed up for newer uses of IT in that scenario? Such a scenario would enable us to do "better for less," as they have coined in the UK.
Modernizing IT across the GC requires more than just a good strategy. It will require a well‑integrated plan and excellence in execution if we are to make substantial progress over the next seven to ten years. When could we expect to see positive results from this strategy?
Lets remember one key milestone: a balanced budget by 2014–15. What does this mean for us in IM/IT? We will need to launch initiatives which will help us to achieve some cost savings, ideally launching projects in this fiscal year in order to harvest some savings and contribute in some capacity to overall GC savings by 2014. In parallel, we must also launch initiatives which are longer term in nature and which will require more than three years to complete. Now, clearly, notwithstanding the emergence of cloud computing, IT is not the type of service that you can step up or down instantly; some of our best initiatives for driving long‑term efficiencies and cost reductions, like data centres, will take us a number of years to achieve substantial consolidation. So we will need to work on both shorter‑term and longer‑term initiatives in parallel, where possible. TBS CIOB, SSC and individual departmental CIOs will all need to review and align our individual plans and resources in support of our new GC strategy and the new IT services delivery construct. This will require immediate and ongoing effort to achieve, and we will certainly exercise our community governance processes throughout.
IT modernization for the GC will require a strong risk management strategy and plan. As IM/IT professionals, you are well aware that risk is an inherent part of the territory. We are constantly balancing security, service level, recovery, availability of resources, user expectations, many risks. Certainly, the introduction of SSC and its mandate redefines the accountabilities for risk identification and mitigation as they will be split between the departmental CIO, still responsible for their applications, and SSC, responsible for the infrastructure. TBS CIOB will be updating the Government Security Policy to reflect this new duality and to give both departments and SSC the tools required to execute properly. For example, DRP needs to be reframed to reflect the dual responsibility. However, while change always brings a measure of new risk, we must not assume that the status quo is without risk either. In fact, the consolidation of IT infrastructure at SSC is a huge enabler for better IT risk management across the GC. A very specific example of this is in our plan for the consolidation of Internet access points. While we have made progress since launching this initiative last year, we expect to dramatically improve our speed of consolidation because of SSC and in addition to other initiatives of this nature, which SSC will drive as one agency. These collectively will provide the GC with a much enhanced IT security environment.
By now everyone here understands that the transformation before us will impact CIOs' roles and that this transformation will also have an impact on our staff.
By now I am sure that our partners in the vendor community have also noted that IT modernization is bound to have impacts on them as well. It will not be business as usual. There is a lot of systems work required and that should be viewed positively, but our modernization strategy also requires a new perspective in how we do things, so you will need to participate in this transformation as well. In collaboration with SSC and with PWGSC, we are planning a series of consultations with the vendor community over the coming months on our strategy where we can engage in a more fulsome dialogue.
Finally, our strategy for modernizing IT in the GC will drive the modernization of our culture, including our management practices and our people management and professional development practices.
I do take this opportunity to recognize once again the ongoing excellence of our community as it continues to effectively and loyally support the GC.
But I want to end my talk by stressing that our most important challenge as a community is not the extent of the modernization we are embarking on, it is the challenge of embracing the transformation before us now.
So what does this mean to our GC CS community? It will certainly not be business as usual for you either. You must be seized with the same imperative—it's all about execution. You need to develop the skills going forward which the new delivery model requires: project management, architecture, business analysis, change management, to name a few. You need to participate on broader cluster or GC‑wide initiatives, with dynamically assembled teams from more than one department, with a greater positive impact on us all. While I expect that it may prove unsettling to some as we change certain approaches, I am confident that, in the long term, this transformation will provide many more opportunities for professional development and realization.
I would like to end with a quote from Thomas Watson Jr. from IBM, taken from IBM's centennial website:
"I believe that if an organization is to meet the challenges of a changing world, it must be prepared to change everything about itself except its beliefs."
The announcement of SSC is a call to action for us all. I am confident that we have the capacity and the determination as a community to meet the challenge of modernization and embrace the transformation that is before us. We will succeed because our own beliefs are firmly anchored on our strong commitment to public service values. I look forward to working with you as we launch into our journey of transformation together.