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Trans-Sector Thinking Spreading to the Highest Levels in Government

Australia, New Zealand and the USA have taken international leadership in relation to their approaches to the infrastructure investment their countries are committed to in relation to the multi-billion dollar investment in national broadband and smart grid infrastructure. This is based on open networks, which will allow multiple access to infrastructure that can be used for e-health, smart grids, tele-education, as well as, of course, to telecoms, Internet and entertainment services.

Other governments around the world have made announcements around the development of e-health etc, but in general terms these have not resulted in much more than a number of small-scale pilots.

In order to make this work, governments will have to take a trans-sector approach towards these investments, and this should be directed from the highest level. This is necessary because most activities, including those carried out by government departments and industry, are organised in silos, and it is very difficult for those within a silo to actually step out of it and take on a trans-sector role. On a government level the only person who is in a position to carry out that function is the President/Prime Minister.

In the above mentioned countries we have seen the President and the Prime Ministers doing exactly this, for example by providing their support for broadband, smart grid/smart city and e-health projects. These are true trans-sector projects, supported by a range of different Departments within these governments.

In Australia this process is underpinned by the way the Prime Minister’s Department manages these projects. A Strategic Policy and Implementation Group has been established within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPM&C).

It works in a project-based way, using strategic consulting style methodologies, on important whole-of-government, as well as specific, policy areas—from both early stage policy developments through to monitoring and direct involvement in implementation.

In the USA a trans-sector team operates within the White House, also looking from a strategic level at all the important investments the Obama Government is making in relation to the economic stimulus funds.

The New Zealand Government is actively looking at opportunities to improve the overall performance of the government sector, particularly the health and education sectors, and in utilising ultra-fast broadband to enable this. The ICT Ministers group, encompassing the Minister of Finance (Deputy Prime Minister), and Ministers of Education, Health, State Services, Communications and IT , and Internal Affairs is keeping an overview of work in the sector and is keen to see this kept moving forward.

By Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication

Paul is also a contributor of the Paul Budde Communication blog located here.

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