Canada: E-Gov Bulletin November 2004

Last Updated: November 11 2004

Edited By E. Michael Power


  • Australia: Statistics Bureau to Trial Online Stats Hub

  • Canada: Federal Government Starts Vendor Consultations on IT Spending

  • Canada: Pesticide Regulation Goes Online

  • Canada: Procurement Contracts Online

  • Canada: Software Tool to Help Government Make IT Investments

  • Canadian Health-Care Groups Endorse IT Standard

  • Dubai Sees Online Transactions Equal Offline Volume

  • Saskatchewan: Provincial History Now Online

  • Singapore: Ministry of Defence Goes Open Source

  • U.K.: Government Opens Up to Open Source

  • U.K.: New Drive for Digital Inclusion

  • U.K.: Local Councils Create Online Knowledge Pool

  • U.K.: London Prepares for E-Elections

  • U.K. Sets Out Next Steps for ID Cards

  • U.S.: HHS Advances E-Records; Doctors Retreat

Australia: Statistics Bureau To Trial Online Stats Hub

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) will next year begin trialling a new one-stop online data hub for requesting information from a range of government agencies.

Australian statistician for the ABS, Dennis Trewin, said a demonstration version of the National Data Network, which is estimated to cost about $500,000 to $750,000 a year to build, was currently under development.

At the moment, some government agencies collect their own statistics independent of the ABS.

ABS has signed up two other agencies, plus the Queensland Government, to be nodes along with itself.

Full press report available at:,7204,11214218%5E15306%5E%5Enbv%5E,00.html

Canada: Federal Government Starts Vendor Consultations On It Spending

The federal government recently announced a series of public consultations with the IT vendor community that will run until January. The contract, for almost $25,000, was awarded to the Ottawa-based Public Policy Forum, an independent organization that bills itself as a "good government watchdog."

According to Ed Fine, executive director of the organizational readiness office in the IT services branch of Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), the federal government is engaged in a horizontal review of expenditures in a number of domains, including information technology. The purpose of those reviews, he added, is to identify how governments can save some of the $5 billion or so it spends per year on IT and be more effective in managing IT on a whole of government basis. PWGSC also recently announced a review of its procurement practices.

The kind of information the government hopes to glean from the discussions includes best practices for managing large IT projects across governmental departments and boundaries, as well as managing the human resources and finances aspects.

But while Fine wouldn't say what particular challenges the government faces in dealing with the private sector on issues such as IT procurement, he did say the government is hoping the sessions serve as a two-way street for information.

Full press report available at:

Canada: Pesticide Regulation Goes Online

Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) has developed what it calls the world's first Web-based service for undertaking pesticide regulatory transactions.

The PMRA Electronic Regulatory System, dubbed e-PRS, offers a new approach to information management and will enable the PMRA to continue the evolution from a completely paper-based system to a sophisticated system using information technology.

The electronic system will transform pesticide regulation in Canada by allowing companies to conduct secure Web-based transactions when submitting applications and to provide essential health and environmental data to the PMRA more quickly using the Internet and the Government of Canada's On-Line secure channel service.

Full press release available at:

Canada: Procurement Contracts Online

The President of the Treasury Board, Reg Alcock, announced on November 1 that information on Government of Canada contracts for goods and services over $10,000 is now available online.

Departments and agencies listed on Schedules I, I.1, and II of the Financial Administration Act will be required to report the data on their Web sites (even where Public Works and Government Services Canada [PWGSC] has issued the contract on their behalf), within 30 days of the end of each period and to update it every three months. The contract information reported includes: vendor name, number used in the financial system, contract date, description of work, contract period for services, delivery date of goods and contract value.

Full press release available at:

Procurement disclosure Web site available at:

Canada: Software Tool To Help Government Make It Investments

The NRC plans a knowledge management application that will cull competitive data for the benefit of its business analysts. The Canadian Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (CISTI), an information source in science, technology and medicine that's part of the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), and Sirsi Canada Inc., a software company that helps libraries connect to users, have joined forces to create a knowledge management tool that centralizes the system of gathering and tracking intelligence on technology companies searching for government funding.

CISTI, a strong believer in library-service innovation, especially in the science, technology and medical areas, was also keen to develop organization-wide common practices relating to the use of various information sources, techniques for interviewing companies and information provided to clients.

Although financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, Dumouchel said the groups have "significant resources" on hand to develop the tool, slated for release in winter 2005.

Full press report available at:

Canadian Health-Care Groups Endorse It Standard

Canada is the latest country to join a worldwide movement to make the flow of health-care information from multiple sources as seamless as possible. Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise Canada is the local chapter of an organization that already has roots in the U.S., Europe and Japan.

Partners in the Canadian organization include Canada Health Infoway, the Canadian Association of Radiologists, the Canadian Healthcare Information Technology Trade Association, Ecole de Technologie Superieure, HIMSS Ontario, ITAC and the Ontario Hospital eHealth Council.

The IHE initiative would ensure that information coming from many different sources, including computers, diagnostic machines, X-ray equipment and patient monitoring systems, would essentially speak the same language.

Full press report available at:

Dubai Sees Online Transactions Equal Offline Volume

Online transactions represent 93 per cent of the total offline transactions in Dubai Municipality.

The municipality's Internet portal had passed 700,000 online transaction since its launch in October 2001. There are now 1,750 online transactions a day, compared to 48 transactions a month when the project started three years ago. The municipal portal contains just under 10,000 pages of content, and is supported by 350 staff.

According to Hussein Nasser Lootah, Assistant Director General for Planning and Building Affairs and Head of the e-Government Committee at the municipality, 43 per cent of the online transactions occur outside of office hours.

Full press report available at:

Saskatchewan: Provincial History Now Online

The Western Development Museum has launched a new Web site that documents Saskatchewan's history. The Web site was originally intended as a resource for students and teachers, but more people than those might use it. The site includes a multimedia gallery with movie and audio clips, more than 600 archival images, a timeline, lesson plans, curricular links and student activities.

The idea for the site came as the museum was compiling information for its centennial exhibits. Saskatchewan turns 100 next year.

Full press report available at:

History available at Western Development Museum:

Singapore: Ministry Of Defence Goes Open Source

Twenty thousand computers are slated to use open source (OS) productivity software by March 2006, making the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) the world's largest public agency to make the switch to OS. The change of policy, which will affect all MINDEF PCs, is motivated by a desire to reduce software expenditure and maintenance costs.

MINDEF will run OpenOffice, a suite of software that includes programs for word processing, spreadsheets, electronic presentations, e-mail, Web access and database management. OpenOffice is a clone of StarOffice—which runs on Windows, Linux and other operating systems—and was launched by Sun Microsystems. The Ministry has been running OpenOffice across 5,000 computers since the beginning of this month, following a 200-computer trial early last year.

Full press report available at:

U.K.: Government Opens Up To Open Source

Microsoft's long-held dominance over U.K. civil servants' desktops has been challenged by new government research. Open source products are now a "viable and credible" alternative to proprietary software for the public sector, according to an eagerly-awaited report by the government procurement body, the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) into a series of 'proof of concept' pilots across public bodies. The trials showed that open source desktops were adequate for all but a small number of "power users" and those requiring applications that need proprietary software to function. However the potential cost savings on office software licensing fees were "significant," the report said. Case studies also confirmed the widespread view that open source products are suitable as a platform for server infrastructure, while equivalent enterprise-level business applications are limited. While supportive of the use of open source software, the report does not signal any major change in UK government policy.

Full text of press release available at:

Open Source Trials report and updated U.K. Government Open Source policy are available here:

U.K.: New Drive For Digital Inclusion

The U.K. Government has joined with business and charities in an ambitious new drive to end the 'digital divide.' The move follows a major Government report describing almost half of U.K. adults—equivalent to 26 million people—as "digitially disengaged." According to the research, almost two thirds of adults who have never used the Internet say they are unlikely to change their mind. The proposed solution is a multi-pronged partnership approach, involving the Government, industry and voluntary sectors and aimed at maximizing opportunities for digital take-up. There is a strong focus on the need for marketing. "Very simply," the report states, "people need to become aware of how they personally may benefit from being digitally engaged." Commercial innovation and enterprise are also seen as key. To coincide with the report's publication, a number of major U.K. industry players, including AOL, BT and Microsoft, have formed the Alliance for Digital Inclusion (ADI), an independent body to promote the use of ICT for social benefit.

Full press release available at:

Full report, "Enabling a Digital United Kingdom" available at:

U.K.: Local Councils Create Online Knowledge Pool

Some 38 English councils have collaborated on what is said to be one of the largest public sector knowledge-sharing infrastructures in Europe. The project, known as the "The Knowledge Engine," or KEN for short, makes its debut at a U.K. conference on smart-working programs next month. The councils have developed a Web-based information management system for local government staff across the region. This incorporates a suite of online collaboration tools to create virtual meeting places for up to 16,000 people simultaneously. The £650,000 project has been funded by the U.K. Government and the European Regional Development Fund.

Full press release available at:

Further information on the KEN project available at:

U.K.: London Prepares For E-Elections

Plans are underway for what could prove to be the single largest implementation of electronic voting ever attempted in the U.K. Millions of Londoners could have the opportunity to vote electronically through the Internet, mobile phone, SMS text messaging, interactive digital television and polling stations in 2008. At present the GLA (Greater London Authority) is preparing to tender for electronic voting and counting systems, related services including consultancy "connected with the procurement, development, evaluation and award and delivery of contracts," as well as verification of the systems' security and fitness for purpose. There is also the possibility that the systems could be brought in for any elections or government referendums taking place in London before then. The value of these contracts is not yet known, however as a guide, the contract for electronic vote counting in elections held in May was worth alone in the region of $9 miilion (STG 5 million).

Source: Taken from Prior Information Notice for Tender:

U.K. Sets Out Next Steps For Id Cards

The British Government has set out its latest proposals for taking forward a national, compulsory identity card scheme, representing in many areas a strengthening of its original plans. The series of "refinements" to the ID card scheme were announced following criticisms by a parliamentary committee who, despite serious concerns over several key elements, recently gave their broad but qualified support to the Government's proposals. The Government will now go forward with a single, free-standing identity card for all resident U.K. nationals, which from 2007/8 will be issued with passports as these are renewed, rather than combining the two. It will also establish a new agency incorporating the U.K. Passport Service to deliver and run the scheme. A secure online verification system will also be set up to perform checks against the proposed National Identity Register (NIR).

Full text of press release available at:

The Government's response and research available at:

U.S.: HHS Advances E-Records; Doctors Retreat

Development of a nationwide system for electronic health records hinges on widescale adoption by physicians and group practices. But U.S. doctors are reluctant to adopt technology, even if they are given equipment and software, a health-care information technology leader said at a conference this week.

Unless officials from small doctor's offices and small physicians groups embrace electronic health records, they cannot meet President Bush's goal of developing such records within a decade, said Dr. David Brailer, National Health IT Coordinator at the Department of Health and Human Services.

For electronic records to work in the health industry, they must be adopted by doctors in large urban practices and by their counterparts in small, rural practices. The country can't be divided into a nation of health IT haves and have-nots, Brailer said, speaking at the Health IT Summit sponsored by the eHealth Initiative.

Brailer said U.S. doctors face a negative business case with electronic records systems and HHS. Insurance companies need to develop financial incentives to spur adoption of technology incentives such as pay-for-performance and pay-for-use inducements, Brailer added.

Full press report available at:

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