Committee recommends greater scrutiny of WA Govt IT contracts

Committee recommends greater scrutiny of WA Govt IT contracts

$3 billion in government contracts prompts call for "proper management" of commercial deals

Giles Nunis - CIO, WA Government

Giles Nunis - CIO, WA Government

With an estimated $3 billion in contracts on the table for its proposed IT buying transformation plan, the Western Australian government needs to step up the management of its commercial IT deals, according to a parliamentary committee report.

In a report tabled on 22 September, the state’s Public Accounts Committee recommended that the government enable a “properly resourced body” to ensure all commercial arrangements relating to its GovNext-ICT program are properly managed.

The Doing ICT Better report comes over a year after the committee kicked off its inquiry into the state’s IT procurement management, and acknowledges that Western Australia has been criticised for its track record in government IT investment.

“The government itself has acknowledged that the delivery of ICT services has not always been as efficient and effective as it might have been,” the report stated.

With the establishment in August last year of the GovNext-ICT program, and the proposed $3 billion in contracts with Datacom, NEC, and Atos arising from the program, the Committee has warned the government that it needs to take extra measures to managed its commercial arrangements with IT suppliers.

The GovNext-ICT program is the first such initiative launched under the Western Australia Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (WAGCIO), which was itself established last year.

“With the potential value of GovNext-ICT contracts as high as $3 billion, the Committee believes it essential that a properly resourced body, be it the GSB [GovNext-ICT Service Broker] or something similar, is established to ensure all commercial arrangements are properly managed,” the report stated.

It pointed to the structure and functions of the New Zealand Government Chief Information Officer’s Commercial Strategy and Delivery Team as a potential model for the government to emulate in its handling of government IT contracts going forward.

The Committee revealed that nine government agencies, representing some 80 per cent of the government’s IT expenditure, have committed to transition to GovNext-ICT.

“This will see them move away from their current reliance upon Common Use Arrangements (CUAs) to deliver commoditised ICT goods and services,” the report said.

The report also recommends that the WAGCIO amend the Western Australian government Cloud Policy to include a statement that requires agencies to adopt a cloud-first approach when considering future ICT investments.

“The WAGCIO has claimed that with appropriate policy direction and central guidance, cloud computing options—such as those proposed in GovNext-ICT—could save the WA government 10 to 50 per cent on its current ICT expenditure,” the report stated.

“This policy direction has now been established with the release of WA’s Whole of Government Cloud Policy (the Cloud Policy) in May 2016.

“Interestingly, this policy has not adopted the cloud-first mantra used in several other jurisdictions.

"Instead, it encourages agencies to consume cloud-based offerings wherever they will deliver value and are fit for purpose."

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