by Byron Connolly

Coalition puts IT governance in the frame

Sep 02, 20133 mins

The Coalition has proposed a new structure where ultimate authority for “effective whole-of-government ICT decisions” would rest with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

If elected this weekend, the Coalition said it would make the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) a support agency for a new Australian Government ICT Advisory Board.

The plans were detailed in the Coalition’s ICT policy (PDF), released Monday afternoon.

The new advisory board would be a way for Cabinet, the Secretaries’ ICT Governance Board (SIGB), agency CIOs, and AGIMO leadership to “obtain advice on the productivity gains achievable from ICT from private sector leaders and experts.”

The Coalition would also consider proposals for the board to provide an independent external chairman from the private sector to the SIGB.

“The creation of a new approach to ICT reform must be complemented by measures to attract and retain talent in the public sector and encourage more interchange of personnel between the Australian government, states and territories and the private sector,” the Coalition said in its ICT policy document.

The Coalition said it would also request that the Department of Finance and Deregulation (DoFD) and AGIMO audit all agencies’ IT spending, capital expenditure and outcomes generated by their ICT investments over the past three years.

There are plans to increase ICT transparency by periodically collecting, reporting and analysing data on IT costs, performance, usage and availability.

The Coalition would also update the benchmarks and analytics introduced after the Gershon Review to “increase the value of this data to AGIMO, SIGB, other decision-makers and taxpayers.”

Cutting the cost of government IT

The Coalition claimed it would also cut the cost of government IT by eliminating duplication and fragmentation. Citing AGIMO figures, the Coalition said that government ICT expenditure rose 13 per cent (or 1 per cent in real terms) from 2008 to 2012.

It claimed that since 2010, the Labor government has “paid decreasing attention to government ICT, even as problems with the current structure became increasingly apparent.

“Agencies remain largely autonomous, and able to opt out of whole-of-government initiatives,” the Coalition’s paper said.

“AGIMO’s combining of ICT strategy and policy expertise with an operational role in procurement and centrally provisioned IT services satisfied neither function – and it has since split into separate strategy and procurement arms.”

“With accountability for compliance with whole-of-government objectives unclear, the result has been continued duplication and fragmentation of vendors, strategies and priorities,” the paper said.

Under the Coalition’s plan to cut spending, ‘light user agencies’ with insufficient IT scale would move to share or cloud solutions, and ‘heavy user agencies’ with more complex IT needs will “retain autonomy but improve accountability.”

The Coalition also said it would create a better model for achieving whole-of-government ICT goals that “acknowledges the decentralised Australian public service and differences in scale and capabilities across agencies.”

Focus on big data

The Coalition said it would request that AGIMO consult with the private sector and community to identify “value-adding public data sets” that are not currently on; and review the policy principles and actions of the 2013 Big Data strategy and finalise a position by the end of next year.

It would also seek proposals from agencies, research and the private sector for joint projects that “have promising efficiency or service quality payoffs.” These may include analytics for welfare or medical benefits fraud detection or predictive personalisation that reduces customer turnaround times, the Coalition said.

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