[LINK] Review of Australian Government's Use of ICT
brd at iimetro.com.au
Sat Apr 12 18:26:21 EST 2008
My comments at the bottom, for once.
The Hon Lindsay Tanner
Minister for Finance and Deregulation
11 April 2008
UK Efficiency Expert to Lead Review of Australian Government's Use of
Information and Communication Technology
Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Lindsay Tanner, today announced
that Sir Peter Gershon has accepted his invitation to lead an
independent review of the Australian Government's management of
information and communication technology (ICT).
The review aims to identify ways in which the Australian Government can
strengthen the whole-of-government management of ICT and maximise the
benefits from ICT to drive greater efficiency and better services. The
review will also examine the way in which agencies manage ICT
investments, including maintenance, intra-agency links, development and
Mr Tanner said: “The Australian Government has approximately $10 billion
in ICT assets and spends around $6 billion per annum on ICT encompassing
procurement, maintenance, development and staff costs. Under the Howard
Government this spending was completely uncoordinated leading to serious
inefficiencies and cost blowouts.”
"There are clear opportunities for efficiency gains in information and
communication technology. But we also want to use this review to ensure
Australians can access convenient and high quality government services.”
Sir Peter Gershon, a former Chief Executive of the UK Treasury’s Office
of Government Commerce, has undertaken several major strategic reviews
for the UK Government on procurement including ICT and public sector
efficiency. As a result of the reviews conducted by Gershon, the UK
Government achieved an estimated £23 billion in budget savings.
Mr Tanner said: "Sir Peter’s track record at the most senior levels of
both industry and government in the UK speaks for itself."
"His expertise as an industry leader, strategist and highly effective
reviewer of public administration makes him a compelling candidate to
review the way in which the Australian Government manages its use of ICT."
Sir Peter Gershon will be supported by the Department of Finance and
Deregulation and will report to the Minister by September 2008 on
options to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of ICT within
Government. The review is part of the broader ongoing reform agenda to
improve the efficiency of government spending and deliver better value
hhmmmm. A few comments.
Sir Peter Gershon was asked to look at "Efficiency in the public
sector", not cost reduction in IT. In fact in his report "Releasing
resources to the front line"
seemed to be advocating increased use of ICT, certainly not reducing
expenditure on it.
From the report
Public sector efficiency has also been driven forward over recent years
by a number of individual reforms undertaken by departments and other
public sector bodies. For example:
.... significant investment in information and communications technology
(ICT) by both central and local government in the 2002 Spending Review
is streamlining the delivery of services to the public, cutting
transaction costs and reducing paperwork.
....the use of e-enabled channels for the provision of information and
delivery of services to the public, .... introducing new initiatives
designed to introduce electronic facilities to more people and to make
new technology more accessible to all;
.... savings delivered by e-auctions.
ref pages 7 and 8.
We want to explore the opportunities to simplify access for the public
and achieve major efficiencies by accelerating the usage of modern
ref page 38
and in the context of Defence:
make better use of its assets and manpower to meet security threats, for
example by harnessing new technology, yielding annual savings of over £1
ref page 51
in the context of the Foreign Office:
deliver improved ICT, increasing the overall productivity of staff and
realising efficiencies of about £25 million;
ref page 51
Lindsay Tanner seems to have decided to just spend less on ICT, not
increase the efficiency of the Public Sector by the better use of ICT
even if it means spending more on ICT.
It's a typical politician's view of life. Let's make a decision and then
have a study to justify it. They don't seem to realise that cost cutting
usually leads to inefficiency, and that increasing expenditure on ICT by
say 10% can lead to Public Sector efficiencies that reduce overall
expenditure by 10%.
An increase of 10% of the IT budget to get a decrease of 10% in the
overall budget seems a good deal to me. But, hey, I'm just a systems
guy, not a politician or economist.
Those numbers are probably wrong, but we won't find out what's possible
from this review because the terms of reference have already precluded
examination of this hypothesis and decided that the answer is cost
cutting, not better delivery of services.
In his review of the UK Public Sector, Sir Peter came to the conclusion
that more ICT means overall saving. I bet such thinking won't emerge
from Sir Peter's review of Australian Federal Government IT expenditure
(or from the 2020 summit). The Finance Minister just wants efficient
spending, not an efficient Public Sector.
The Howard government was well known for making policy decisions in an
evidence vacuum. Let's hope the Rudd government doesn't start doing the
At least Sir Peter is not an economist. According to the Minister's
press release, Sir Peter is a Member of the Institution of Electrical
Engineers. Well so was I, until they changed their name a few years back
to The Institution of Engineering and Technology and now I'm a Member of
I hope they get the details of the review correct.
Me, picky? Never.
brd at iimetro.com.au
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