Several industry representatives have applauded the Federal Government’s quick decision to implement the Gershon Report’s recommendations into ICT procurement in full, but are debating the ramifications on the broader market.
In a media statement last week, Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Lindsay Tanner, said the Gershon recommendations provided a new model for the effective and efficient use of ICT in government. A staged rollout will start immediately.
“This is a turning point, rebalancing the highly-decentralised ICT administration in government,” Tanner said in the statement.
Among the suggestions are reducing the use of ICT contractors by 50 per cent over the next three years, as well as creating a new Ministerial ICT Committee to sit underneath the Government’s Expenditure Review Committee (ERC). These teams will work with agencies to reduce “business as usual” budgets by $400 million annually.
“Reductions averaging 15 per cent for larger agencies and 7.5 per cent for mid-sized agencies are expected and achievable,” Tanner said in the statement. The changes will free up money for service delivery capability, he added.
Gartner vice-president research, Richard Harris, said the Government’s rapid acceptance of the Gershon recommendations showed a desire to get moving. Harris added the first six months of 2009 would be a time of pressure on agencies and their ICT activities.
“The fact this has gained approval within Cabinet and is happening as fast as it is, means there is a strong desire within Government to work to the time frame that is laid out in the report,” he said. “Those timeframes are quite aggressive.”
Harris warned the Ministerial Committee would face a steep learning curve and potential resistance from within agencies that are at different levels of use and understanding of ICT, which could create delays in decision making.
“It is not an easy task for a Ministerial Committee, let alone a Secretaries group, which is also now in the mix, to actually take on that role and do it effectively,” he said. “Particularly in the early stages, there will be some quite complex things that need to be dealt with around what suits an individual agency versus what is for the greater good across government.”
Consulting head for research group Intermedium, Kevin Noonan, was encouraged to see the ICT Ministerial Committee under the ERC.