The Ontario Public Service celebrated ten years of hosting Showcase Ontario, their annual information and information technology learning conference, in early September.
Newly appointed acting corporate chief information officer David Nicholl spoke of “working together, working smarter” to achiever better, more complete results. He sees information and information technology leading the way, being part of the answer, through seeing the possible and getting results.
Secretary to Cabinet Shelly Jamieson (who outlined her agenda in our May 2008 issue) focused in on results: “Our success is measured by the impact on peoples’ lives.” She reiterated that the government has four priorities that each public servant must align their work to:
The economy: moving to the new economy The environment: going green, green IT, sustainability Health care: reducing wait times, ehealth records, focusing on diabetes which now affects 900,000 of Ontario’s 13 million residents Education and skills training: to support the new economy (see David Zussman’s take on this on page 34).
Before being appointed as head of the Ontario Public Service last January, Jamieson was known for her attention to work/life balance. She has not abandoned that theme, pointing out “technology should be used to enhance work/life balance, not infringe on it.”
Ron McKerlie, former CIO and now Deputy Minister, Ministry of Government Services and Associate Secretary of the Cabinet, asked people to think about what they would be celebrating 10 years from now – and to think about how to get there, setting targets for one, five, 10 and 20 years out. McKerlie listed several projects to become a greener government – “a lot of small things to buy into, to create something pretty significant,” including the crowd’s favourite, less use of PowerPoint.
“Only by working smarter can we continue to exceed customer expectations,” he observed. “We need to embrace a new facet of the Internet in Web 2.0 tools, wikis and blogs, with interactive and collaborative approaches replacing one way communication.”
McKerlie’s speech itself was the result of online collaboration with 3,000 contributors. “How can we use these tools in our work?” was the challenge he gave the OPS. One method, launched at Showcase, was to make the employee suggestion Ideas Campaign collaborative and interactive and rename it “Idearena.” It is based on the belief that 67,000 heads are better than one, that individual suggestions would benefit from development and refinement by others. These tools will also be used to engage the public.
“It’s not just about being more efficient, although that is important. It is also about creating a better result.”
The highlight of the event was the awards banquet. The awards themselves, and the projects, reflect alignment with corporate priorities:
Serving Ontario’s Citizens Better recognized upgrades to the Water Testing Information System. Working Together: Many have observed that few problems can be solved in isolation. This award recognized nine agencies involved in a partnership, The Child, Youth and Family Crisis Line for Eastern Ontario, that integrated various call lines while reducing demand on police and hospitals. Innovation: The Youth and New Professionals Secretariat was recognized for creating a virtual career fair, using Web 2.0 technology to create a second life career fair where potential applicants created avatars to visit job sites – fighting a forest fire, performing CPR, testing water samples. Small Project Achievement recognized the use of IT and KM to integrate data and reduce document search time, improving efficiency in the Record and Document Management System, Children, Youth and Social Services I&IT Cluster. Government Modernization recognized the Ontario MD Portal IM/KM project. Green Technology recognized the Nutrient Management Computer Program that helps farmers effectively manage fertilizer and manure use in an environmentally responsible manner (reducing their use by 1.5 million tons). I&IT Organization Outstanding Mentor recognized the contributions of Wynnan Rose. The Corporate CIO Award, recognizing contributions to allow the business of government to function more effectively, was presented to Modernizing Ontario’s System for Tax Administration.
Details are available at www.ShowcaseOntario.com/2008/