The State IT Agency (SITA), which has been plagued by years of rapid management turnover and an inability to meet its mandated goals, is confident that the new turnaround strategy begun a year ago will set it on course and allow it to make a positive contribution to government’s IT.

Recently-appointed CEO Blake Mosely-Lefatola says the new-look SITA aims to become a primary system integrator (PSI) to government and has embarked on a three-stage programme that is hopes will achieve this goal.

Last year, he says, government spent about R103-billion on IT, but much of this spend goes on duplicating services.

He points out there are still too many manual processes in the front office when dealing with citizens and few departments provide online services.

In addition, most departments still use the existing transversal (ERP) solutions like BAS, PERSAL and LOGIS, mainly because the newer system don’t yet cover the full governance scope of the PFMA and Public Service Administration Act.

In short, says Mosely-Letafola, government is simply not optimising the advances in technology

At GovTech a year ago, delegates resolved that the development of a government-wide ICT strategy was a priority and set minimum criteria and standards for IT governance.

It was also decided that social networks should be leveraged, along with wireless and mobile connectivity. Alongside this is a need to innovate home-grown IT solutions.

The aim, it was decided, was to prioritise online service delivery under a single public service (inclusive of local government) programme.

These goals are predicated upon SITA being able to turn itself around to become responsive to government priorities and the national agenda; to become a customer-centric organisation and an employer of choice.

The first phase of the turnaround was to recognise the agency’s failures; the second to set goals for the future.

The aim of the new SITA is to be able to improve support to public sector modernisation; improve the ability of government to achieve more with less; improve the quality of service and create  value for money through IT; and establish partnerships to deliver IT goods and services.

So far, the agency has improved its institutional reform and governance, receiving an unqualified audit report with no matters of emphasis, for the latest financial year. All of its top executive positions have been filled, with the last executive joining the agency next month.

It has completed its re-organisation and begun delivering on projects that will contribute to modernised government. These include delivering parts of the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) and committing to roll out more in the near future.

SITA is also working on finalising a number of strategies, including those for convergence, cloud computing and continuous price improvements.

It has also reduced the tender backlog and improved supply chain management.

Next on the agenda is the implementation of 10 key e-government initiatives to improve citizen convenience to DPSA.

Mosely-Letafola says SITA has defined the architecture of the Government Cloud and will soon move services into the cloud. It will also expand the wireless application service provider (WASP) base platform for mobile access to services.

SITA has begun work on esablishing an IT Academy jointly with relevant government departments, academia and industry, which will help with the development of IT skills for the knowledge economy.

It has also developed a innovation strategy and initiatives that will be supported through partnership with industry and academia.