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Gershon slams Government ICT management as weak

Gershon slams Government ICT management as weak

Report identifies seven key areas and recommends slashing budgets

The Gershon review has slammed the Australian Government’s use and management of ICT as weak while recommending budget cuts of up to 15 per cent.

In the report, author Sir Peter Gershon, who also undertook a similar review of the UK Government’s procurement strategy, claimed the Federal Government ICT marketplace was “neither efficient nor effective”.

“The current model of very high levels of agency autonomy, including the ability to self-approve opt-ins to whole-of-government approaches in the ICT domain, leads to sub-optimal outcomes in the context of prevailing external trends, financial returns, and the aims and objectives of the current Government,” he wrote.

The 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 contains seven key findings and several recommendations.

The report highlighted weak governance mechanisms as contributing to the failure of agencies to realise benefits from ICT-enabled projects. It also identified a lack of scrutiny on funding, and “a disconnect between the stated importance of ICT and actions in relation to ICT skills”.

Gershon also criticised the existing sustainability program and added 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.

Recommendations included the establishment of a Ministerial Committee on ICT, a 50 per cent reduction in the number contractors in use by agencies over a two-year period and an increase in the number of government ICT staff.

Significantly, Gershon recommended slashing the budgets of the largest 28 agencies (Defence excluded) spending over $20 million on ICT annually by 15 per cent, and those with a spend between $2-20 million by 7.5 per cent.

He recommended the savings, which were estimated at $140 million in the first year and in excess of $400 million in the second and subsequent years, be put back into central fund for re-investment.

"Sir Peter has recommended that we should improve our ICT governance to improve the effectiveness of its use, tighten our management of business-as-usual ICT operation to improve its efficiency, manage our skills base better, plan for the Government's overall datacentre requirements, interact with the industry more effectively, and ensure that the Government's own ICT operations are sustainable," Tanner said in a release.

"Without pre-empting Cabinet's consideration, the report forms an excellent basis for implementing a series of changes for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of government ICT."

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