Incoming Minister for Finance and Deregulation Penny Wong appears to have passed responsibility for the Federal Government’s peak IT strategy group to Special Minister of State, Gary Gray.
“I understand that you have agreed with Minister Wong that you will also have responsibility for a diverse range of technical and service delivery activities that Finance oversees, such as the Australian Government Information Management Office,” wrote Finance Secretary David Tune in a letter to Gray constituting the minister’s briefing notes as part of the incoming government.
The briefing notes were only published recently.
Over the past three years, responsibility for AGIMO — which coordinates Federal Government IT strategy centrally — sat with the then Finance Minister, Lindsay Tanner. The change of masters returns AGIMO to its days under John Howard’s administration, when it was overseen separately by Special Ministers of State, Eric Abetz and Gary Nairn.
AGIMO will now sit within a new division of Finance — dubbed the Government Business Office — which will also include areas such as property management.
Gray won the ministerial appointment as part of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s reshuffle in September following Labor taking Government. He was previously a parliamentary secretary for Western and Northern Australia, winning his parliamentary seat in November 2007 with Kevin Rudd’s Labor victory.
Gray will take up the AGIMO reins at a time when it is delivering on several critical initiatives for the Federal Government.
For example, the briefing documents make clear that the imminent action he needs to take is to approve AGIMO’s new arrangements for the provision of secure internet gateways across government.
Secondly, while the briefing notes claim that the ambitious program of reforms stemming from the Gershon Review into public sector IT expenditure and use has mostly been delivered, Gray will need to rubber stamp AGIMO’s continued coordinated ICT procurement strategy, including the mammoth datacentre centralisation strategy.
In this area of the briefing notes, several paragraphs were blacked out.
In the briefing notes, Finance urged Gray to focus on “a new strategic vision for the Government’s use of ICT … for the next five to ten years”. The department argued for AGIMO to have a “stronger role” to provide greater coordination of ICT initiatives across the Federal Government. “This would give the ICT industry visibility of how and where they can contribute,” the notes stated.
And then there’s the Government 2.0 work which is attempting to boost use of Web 2.0 collaborative tools such as blogs and wikis within the public sector, as well as opening up access to Government information. Finance advised Gray to endorse the previously published Declaration of Open Government “possibly via an opening post on the AGIMO blog”.
It has been speculated that Senator Kate Lundy’s new roles — one of which is Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister — will allow her to pursue her interest in the area. One of Gray’s other new tasks will be to “agree a process for working with Senators and Members with particular interests in this area,” said the Finance briefing.