[LINK] Bureaucrats stay mum on IT payments in greenbacks
Thu, 25 Jan 2001 10:56:09 +1100
Bureaucrats stay mum on IT payments in greenbacks
By Laura Tingle, Political Correspondent
Bureaucrats running the Howard Government's bungled computer
outsourcing program have refused to answer Opposition questions about
$17 million paid to a United States law firm for "strategic advice" on
The Opposition spokeswoman on information technology, Senator Kate
Lundy, yesterday released answers she has received from the Department
of Finance and the Office of Asset Sales and IT outsourcing on the
The answers respond to questions on notice Senator Lundy asked during
Estimates Committee hearings in November.
But for the second year in a row, the department has effectively
refused to answer questions about the controversial contract awarded
to the US law firm Shaw Pittman without tender at the beginning of the
It has also refused to answer questions about the impact of cost cuts
imposed on government departments in the past three years in
anticipation of massive savings from IT outsourcing.
The department was asked by Senator Lundy whether it had calculated
taxpayers' exposure "as a result of Shaw Pittman's contract being in
US dollars and the recent dive of the dollar".
It answered: "At various times throughout the life of the contract
[the department] has undertaken analysis of the effect of the
movements in the value of the Australian dollar relative to the US
In the answers, the department also said it was "outside [its]
responsibility" to note the global trends in government IT
Senator Lundy said yesterday that it was only after Labor exposed the
fact that Shaw Pittman had been appointed without tender that the
department issued a limited tender for subsequent strategic advice.
But firms were given only 10 days to respond to a multi-million-dollar
proposal and Shaw Pittman had been hired with a tender price 44 per
cent higher than the nearest tender.
At the November Estimates Committee hearings, Senator Lundy had once
again asked why Shaw Pittman was paid in US dollars; whose idea it had
been to pay it in US dollars, and how much these payments had risen,
given the drop in the Australian dollar.
"Not surprisingly, the Department of Finance all but refused to answer
these questions," Senator Lundy said. "Yet again, the Department of
Finance is refusing to reveal the truth about the payments to Shaw
Pittman. Their non-answers to questions on notice about this massive
payment, for what can at best be described as poor advice, is a gross
misuse of taxpayers' money. Either the Department of Finance is trying
to hide a major waste of money on IT outsourcing advisers or they are
trying to cover up for Minister Fahey's incompetent mismanagement."
I see nothing, I hear nothing, and I know NOTHING!
-- Sergeant Schultz, Hogan's Heroes