[LINK] ICT Predictions 2009

Bernard Robertson-Dunn brd at iimetro.com.au
Fri Jan 9 10:42:00 AEDT 2009

Tom Worthington wrote:
> Apart from data centre consolidation, another Gershon recommendation 
> was to cut the ICT budgets to get agencies out of the "business as 
> usual" way of working. Agencies will then be forced to think about 
> new ways to do things, such as consolidated servers.
This the same approach that John Fahey tried when he attempted to impose 
whole of government outsourcing on the departments. He reduced 
departmental IT budgets before they outsourced and even if they didn't 
intend outsourcing.

It didn't work then and it won't work now.

As an aside, I wonder if anyone gave Gershon the Humphrey report that 
killed whole of government outsourcing.

In my experience there are great inefficiencies in the provision of 
government Information Systems. The reason is because of the behaviour 
of the government itself. It makes policy decisions and commitments that 
require departments to bust a gut to meet imposed deadlines. The 
resulting systems are poorly architected (if at all), development is 
rushed and implementation is badly done. Nobody ever has the time or 
money to go back and fix the systems once they are up and running.

In addition, badly thought out technology procurement decisions also 
result in less than optimal systems.

Instead of tinkering around the edges with data centres, server 
consolidation, green IT, and producing pdfs of a few government reports 
the government should look at its own behaviour first.

Unfortunately, the central departments don't understand the problem, let 
alone the solution and nobody listens to the IT professionals deep in 
the departments. They are the ones who really know what's going on but 
are powerless to do anything about it.

I'm reminded of the fable of government planning

In the beginning was the plan.

And the plan was completely without substance.

And then came the assumptions.

And the assumptions were without form.

And darkness was upon the faces of the workers.

And they spake unto their Group Heads, saying "It is a crock of shit, 
and it stinketh."

And the Group Heads went unto their Section Heads and sayeth, "It is a 
pail of dung, and none can abide the odour thereof."

And the Section Heads went unto their managers and sayeth, "It is a 
container of excrement, and it is very strong, such that none can abide 
by it."

And the managers went unto their Director and sayeth, "It is a vessel of 
fertilizer, and none can abide by its strength."

And the Directors went unto their Director General and sayeth, "It 
contains that which aids plant growth, and it is very strong."

And the Directors-General went unto the Assistant Deputy Minister, and 
sayeth, "It promoteth growth, and it is very powerful."

And the Assistant Deputy Minister went unto the Deputy Minister, and 
sayeth unto him, "The powerful plan will actively promote growth and 
efficiency of the Department, and give it strength."

And the Deputy Minister looked upon the plan and saw that it was good.

And the plan became policy.


Bernard Robertson-Dunn
Canberra Australia
brd at iimetro.com.au

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