Gershon’s long-awaited review into government ICT, initially requested by Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Lindsay Tanner in April this year, was released October 16 and contained seven key findings and several recommendations.
It blamed weak governance mechanisms for the failure of agencies to realise benefits from ICT-enabled projects and identified a lack of scrutiny on funding.
It also flagged a disconnect between “the stated importance of ICT and actions in relation to ICT skills”.
Gershon also found the existing sustainability program lacking, and claimed the absence of a whole-of-government strategic plan for datacentres could cost taxpayers up to $1 billion over 15 years if a more coordinated approach wasn’t implemented.
Other recommendations included the establishment of a Ministerial Committee on ICT, and a 50 per cent reduction in the number of contractors used by agencies over a two-year period.
“IT areas have historically been beaten over the head about being business focused as a cover for underlying problems. But what Gershon is asking for is agencies be IT focused and ensure good governance,” Intermedium’s Noonan said. “This will have a large impact on government policy and delivery and a lasting effect on industry.”
Australian Computer Society CEO, Kumar Parakala, was supportive of many of Gershon’s recommendations and highlighted the call to implement a Ministerial Committee and Secretaries’ ICT Governance Board.
“In general terms we are quite alright with most of his recommendations and in fact, extremely happy with some of his recommendations because of the significant ICT focus,” he said.
But both AIIA and ACS warned against blind cost-cutting measures, arguing these could counteract the ICT innovations and improvements the review was striving to achieve.
“You can’t go and roughly cut your costs by 20 or 30 per cent in ICT, you have to carefully look at how the business is using IT and develop better and smarter ways of cost cutting,” Parakala said.
“All cost cutting measures, while ACS fully supports the estimates, need to be considered in full light of the business of the government and should be carefully undertaken so that the impact on tax payers is minimal. The last thing you want to do is go backwards on service delivery.”