Jersey's eGov strategy has stalled. What needs to happen to move it forwards?


#1

So there’s been a fair amount of speculation about what the progress is on the much lauded ‘eGov strategy’ in Jersey, with everything between it’s going ahead to being deader that our Durrell’s mascot.
This morning, SoJ published a comment on this.

http://www.gov.je/Government/eGovernment/Pages/eGovernmentProgrammeUpdate.aspx

Followed by Digital Jersey’s statement

http://digitaljersey.createsend1.com/t/ViewEmail/i/2A013828E6F24C34

From my pov it’s likely to continue stalling until the SoJ form an internal devops team to at least run the tender process (currently there are no devs working inside the SoJ - those that once were are now ‘project managers’). It’s insane that the island’s biggest employer doesn’t have an internal dev team.

What are people’s thoughts (or what’s going on in Guernsey)?


#2

From the beginning the States were encouraged to do more internally and outsource less, but they seem determined to outsource the entire project. I think a big part of this is being too risk-averse and wanting to have the ability to shift blame to a vendor if it doesn’t go well.

I’m hopeful they will try to be more self-sufficient going forward and I think we really need to keep making that point. If the management team handling this are too risk-averse it may be necessary to replace them.

We can’t really continue with poor quality outsourced projects like Custom’s Caesar website or our hospital full of computers still running Windows XP. Time for someone to take a bigger leap forward, and quickly.


#3

Tom, Robbie

A few things to take into account:

  1. Current policy is to reduce States headcount. More parts of government are actively being spun off (ports, tourism) with the intention of shrinking the size of government. So, employing a team of devs would be counter to that. Recruitment freezes aren’t unusual.

  2. The States are trying to put a lid on the increasing revenue cost of the States like salaries - so one off capital costs to buy in expertise and off the shelf solutions has been preferred - eGov is seen as a capital project

  3. If there’s not enough capacity internally to manage a large and complex change project, you have to buy in that capacity. Everyone on the payroll is busy delivering ‘business as usual’ and incremental delivery.

  4. It seemed logical to find a supplier who had actually done this stuff, rather than someone who is generalist and who was willing to turn their hand to anything - and that meant looking to the UK.


#4

Tom

CAESAR was built 10 years ago. I think it is an example of how sites were designed at that time. It was not designed for members of the public to use - it was for the licenced trade principally.

When GST was introduced there was a need to provide a way for businesses to pay GST on bulk imports, and a lesser need for the public to pay GST on large personal imports. CAESAR was still fit for purpose in 2007 when it was enhanced to add that functionality.

Since then the amount of Amazon parcels etc. being imported has increased dramatically and as the GST rate increased from 3% to 5% the de minimus threshold came down meaning that many more people were needing to pay GST online before receiving their parcel. At the same time people’s expectation of online services has increased dramatically, the iPad came along, and department budgets got tighter. There’s been no money to refresh CAESAR. It was seen as ‘good enough’. But with the eGov ‘reboot’ hopefully we can get it in the agenda.


#5

Thanks for the replies and I think this reinforces my point against outsourcing. CAESAR was outsourced, then the 2007 enhancement was also outsourced, now parcel volume continues to increase and I think we can see where this is headed. You will forever be outsourcing it as times and demand change.

In your earlier post you say “eGov is seen as a capital project”. I’m curious to know if the SOJ web team have challenged this notion. I appreciate that you have a difficult political climate outlined in your four points, but if the best outcome is incompatible with them, I think someone needs to speak up and say so.

If you outsource the whole thing, this reduces your role to a glorified ‘shopping assistant’ and if it were me, I’d be wondering when the role of managing outsourcing is itself outsourced. You have a smart, capable team there and I hope to see it expanded and doing more. I think this is the opinion of the wider tech community in Jersey so if you float the idea out there, it may help counter all the complaining from C5 and elsewhere.

Jersey is small and our needs are not particularly demanding. Building things internally and putting together a team with experience is a realistic goal. It is also cheaper long term than paying outsiders to do everything.