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Gershon review changes move into phase two

Federal Government agencies watching budget news for indications on what they will be required to implement

The first phase of the Gershon review changes to ICT spending in Federal Government has been completed as agencies await the budget with bated breath.

According to the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) the group tasked with implementing changes, the Finance ICT Review team, has completed its work with agencies to reduce ICT business as usual (BAU) expenditure.

Fifty per cent of the savings from changes already made are to be available for reinvestment into projects to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of BAU activities.

Authored by Sir Peter Gershon, who also undertook a similar review of the UK Government’s procurement strategy, the Gershon report was released late last year after being commissioned by Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Lindsay Tanner.

In the report, Gershon was highly critical of the Government's inefficiencies with ICT management, recommending budget cuts of up to 15 per cent and other changes such as cutting the use of contractors by 50 per cent.

The report was followed by a commitment from the Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Lindsay Tanner, to implement the recommendations in the report in full.

Consulting head for research group Intermedium, Kevin Noonan, said that while AGIMO has put a lot of effort into liaising with the agencies during the first phase of changes, the next step in the process will take some time to implement.

“AGIMO has proven that it is serious about engagement and that it is going well, but it’s too early to make predictions about the progress of phase two,” Noonan said.

“What we have observed is that there is a disparity between agencies and how to deal with the requirements of the review, and that disparity is based on size. The larger agencies have the resources and are well positioned to make the adjustments while the small agencies are really playing catch up.”

In the meantime, Noonan said all agencies are keeping their eyes on news about the budget, and further changes expected as a result.

“We’ll have more to say post-budget, as the necessary changes will be locked in as part of the budget. I think all agencies will be keeping an eye on what other cuts they will be required to make,” he said.

Phase two of the Gershon review changes is underway with a number of projects, including:

  • Development of a whole-of-government data centre strategy for future data centre requirements over the next 10-15 years. Finance has established a cross-agency team and recently conducted a series of industry engagement session to inform the development of the strategy;

  • Implementation of ICT sustainability initiatives. Finance is identifying Green ICT "Quick Wins" and developing a Green ICT Procurement Kit in consultation with the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA). DEWHA is developing a whole-of-government ICT sustainability plan in conjunction with Finance;

  • Development of a whole-of-government ICT workforce plan and career structure. Finance, in conjunction with the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC), is developing a workforce plan to ensure what it deems are the right ICT skills are available within the APS to deliver government programs. Finance and the APSC are also developing a structured pathway to attract more people to an APS ICT career and to assist ICT professionals to manage and progress their careers within the APS;

  • Development of client and supplier codes of practice, which will focus on common understanding between all parties, with regard to responsibilities and behaviours throughout the ICT procurement process; and

  • Improving agency capability. Organisational capability self-assessment methodologies are being assessed for their suitability for use by Australian Government Agencies.