[LINK] $17m later, IT advisers heading back home
Wed, 15 Nov 2000 11:19:51 +1100
$17m later, IT advisers heading back home
Shaw Pittman Potts and Trowbridge, the United States law firm which has
received more than $17 million for advice on the Government's controversial
information technology outsourcing scheme, is packing up and going home.
At least two of the advisers working with the firm are understood to be in
the process of packing up their families to return to the US and sources
have told the Herald that other members of the Shaw Pittman team are also
leaving as the firm's contract with the Office of Asset Sales and
Information Technology Outsourcing is being wound up.
The move comes in the face of the political storm over the level of
payments to the firm, and criticism of the outsourcing scheme by the
Auditor-General in a damning report in September.
The Finance Minister, Mr Fahey, last night emphasised that a report he
ordered last week into the troubled outsourcing program would be made
The firm had cost taxpayers $15.82 million as at May 31, and the cost has
continued to rise - particularly since the contract is written in US
The firm's appointment was made in mid-1996 by the then chief information
officer, Dr Andy Macdonald.
The firm initially went to Canberra on a short-term basis as an
"outsourcing consultant" to advise how departments' computer systems should
be "clustered" and offered to the market.
But the consultancy was never put to tender, and the Audit Office found
there was no evidence a contract had ever been signed with the firm for the
A contract was finally signed in July 1997, still at rates originally set
for a short-term consultancy and, after publicity about the firm's fees, a
"competitive tender" was put out for the strategic advisory work.
But the tender involved 17 firms expert in asset sales rather than
computers being given just 10 days to tender on the basis of "limited
The bids were assessed by a panel chaired by those that first hired the
firm and it was rehired, even though its bid was $A2 million, or 44 per
cent, more expensive than the next ranked bid.