Catalyst and the Public Sector

The Beehive: Parliament House in WellingtonCatalyst was formed in Wellington in 1997. Over the last twenty years, we have developed longstanding successful relationships with a wide range of public sector agencies, partnering with them to deliver digital solutions that support their delivery of services to New Zealanders.

From the outset, we were committed to open source and the freedom it provides to government. Now, two decades later, open source is ubiquitous in government. It powers everything from websites (the Common Web Platform is built on SilverStripe, another Wellington-based global open source success story), to learning management systems and Identity and Access Management.

Some of the successful projects that we have delivered for government agencies over the last couple of years include:

  • The Electoral Management System for the Electoral Commission. We have built and managed the EMS for decades, but in 2015-16, we rewrote the system from the ground up. It is now used to manage every aspect of our general elections, by-elections and referenda, from rostering staff, provisioning ballots and polling places to publishing results.

  • The Life Events platform, for aggregating multiple government and non-government services around life events into a single, intuitive interface for New Zealanders. The first two of these events, SmartStart and End of Life, were led by the Department of Internal Affairs, in conjunction with a range of other agencies.

  • CabNet for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. CabNet, and the companion mobile application CabDocs, is a secure, online system for managing papers through the Cabinet and Cabinet committee decision-making process.

  • The Performance and Consistency Tool (PaCT) for the Ministry of Education is used by teachers to assess student progress against National Standards.

In addition to these larger projects, Catalyst offers a range of services to the public sector. These include:

  • Infrastructure and Platform as a Service on the Catalyst Cloud, New Zealand’s first fully automated public cloud. Our cloud provides full API-driven functionality, hosted in three regions here in New Zealand.

  • Learning and knowledge management, through our Open Knowledge group:

    • eLearning - we provide education sector go-to products Moodle and Mahara, plus Totara which is favoured by the public sector.

    • Library Management and Digital Asset Management - we provide Koha library management system which is used extensively by government clients, and asset management tool Islandora which is becoming a popular choice for local government.

    • Open data management and visualisation, including the R platform on the Catalyst Cloud used by the Treasury and Statistics New Zealand.

    • Document management using Alfresco, the system which powers CabNet.

  • Websites using Drupal and SilverStripe make up the vast majority of the government domain space.

  • Bespoke software development, using Agile methodologies and enterprise software, including Java, Python, PHP and C, were integral to the major projects listed above.

  • Identity and Access Management, including implementations of RealMe integration using Java, PHP, Python and Perl.

  • Enterprise Search and Discovery, replacing Google with open source tools that connect to Active Directory and respect your user permissions and access controls.

  • Consulting and solutions architecture for everything from simple websites through to the Square Kilometre Array, the largest science project in history.

Catalyst is a full services company, providing the complete suite of services and support to ensure that technology projects are delivered successfully and to the high standards government demands. This includes training in all of our open source toolkits and technologies, UX and design services that put the users at the centre of the design process, automated and manual testing and Quality Assurance to deliver reproducible builds of quality software. And, critically for government systems, we have skilled security and system administration staff who understand the NZISM and the Privacy Act.

We also provide account and relationship management with staff that understand the public sector and the unique challenges of the operating environment.

As you would expect, Catalyst is on a number of government procurement panels, including DIA’s Web Services Panel, making it simple to commission work from us.

For twenty years, Catalyst has been a trusted partner with a range of New Zealand government public sector organisations. We have built that trust and those partnerships on our excellent technical delivery of open source solutions, and our commitment to exceeding expectations about the value we can create for government.

At Catalyst, free and open source is not just what we do, it’s what we stand for.


Creative Commons photo of the Beehive by Ari Bakker on Flickr.