Size of IS shop: 360
Mobile PCs: 2000
Hand-held devices: 650
Total screens: 13,350
Industry: Government and defence
PC environment: Dell, Lenovo, Windows XP
Server environment: HP, Windows
DBMS: Oracle, SQL
Address: Defence House, Aitken Street, Wellington
Key IS projects this year: Not listed.
Government agencies across the public sector are looking to improve productivity and cut costs in light of the challenging fiscal environment. The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is no different, and over 2008 and 2009 a focus on better management of ICT vendor contracts, coupled with market tenders, has delivered IT procurement savings in the region of $8 million per annum (or 10 percent of ICT operating costs). Savings are “given back” to the organisation, with some re-investment back into the ICT area. This has allowed CIO Peter Thomas the opportunity to improve ICT outputs, while keeping operating costs flat.
One of the top priorities for the NZDF is the Defence Transformation Programme (DTP). The DTP is the formal programme of work initiated to take a strategic look at the overall support functions of the NZDF. Reflecting the government’s desire to highlight and improve value-for-money within Defence, three key areas were targeted for change: human resource management, logistics and NZDF headquarters.
Commenting on the DTP, Thomas says, “We’re likely to see an increase in capital allocation into ICT to assist the DTP to succeed. “Ultimately,” he says,“information, communications and tech-nology are core enablers to the outcomes and outputs of the NZDF and the three services, and are at the heart of all processes, both in the military and corporate domains. ICT also plays a key role in enabling new capabilities, whether it be a military platform or a more traditional business/corporate tool.” The challenge, however, can come with prioritisation, as each of the three Services look for new capabilities, despite limited funding.
In March of this year, the NZDF went live with a new high-speed, 10Gig network, procured through TelstraClear, which operates across 11 Defence sites throughout the country.
Given the sensitive nature of many of the NZDF’s operations, technology solutions often require specific design and implementation requirements, though both military and commercial off-the-shelf products are used wherever they are practical, and are able to meet strict Defence Force standards. For instance, in addition to the 650 to 700 smartphones currently in use across the organisation, the Defence Force uses another 200 mobile devices enhanced with cryptography for use in secure communications.
While Thomas admits his role as CIO can be challenging, it is highly rewarding. “It is a large IT environment. Among my team and the three Services [Air Force, Army and Navy], we have 600 to 700 people doing ICT activity. There has been a huge shift in the organisation’s appreciation of the value delivered by ICT, and we are seen as a key enabler to military outcomes, not just as a team providing corporate desktop services. It is a very exciting place to work, and while we have many challenges on our plate, we are also cutting new ground in many technologies and communications.”
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