Since the 2008 ICT Reform Program and more recently in the Australian Public Service ICT strategy 2012-15, the Department of Finance and Deregulation keeps asking Federal agencies to share IT solutions for efficiency’s sake, but with limited success.
To date it appears that the cost benefits offered – in theory – by inter-agency cooperation have not been strong enough to break through the siloed public service culture in Canberra.
But such a shift is possible, says Australian Government CTO John Sheridan. Sheridan explained at a recent industry briefing that when the benefits of coordination become unavoidable, as has been the case with his Department’s suite of whole-of-government ICT panels, agency push-back diminishes.
“In the face of these considerable discounts we are getting changed behaviour,” he said. “We are finding a lack of resistance now as agencies start to see the benefits of doing this business as usual work better.”
This is why the fate of a whole-of-government expansion of the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relation’s (DEEWR) Parliamentary Workflow Solution (PWS) might be a crucial turning point in a share before buy approach. Success could be just the evidence agency executives need to break through agency divisions and begin sharing solutions. Progressive deployment of the PWS will begin in June 2013.
The new whole-of-government platform is based on DEEWR’s internal Parliamentary Document Management System created in 2007. The system is already used by the Department of Defence, the Australian Agency for International Development and the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education.
The expansion to a whole-of-government Parliamentary Workflow Solution was initially flagged in 2010 at a meeting of the Secretaries’ ICT Governance Board.
The benefits of the coordinated approach include the elimination of the need for new procurement, implementation and maintenance costs of separate departmental systems, and the delivery of greater efficiency in information sharing between agencies.
The DEEWR system was selected as the host platform because it “builds on existing government investment, and is already recognised as a high-quality system that is in use by other agencies”, according to a DEEWR press release.
DEEWR is the appointed service provider, with responsibility for implementing and hosting the platform, which will replace 13 different systems across 41 Government agencies by its expected completion date of June 2016. The Department of Finance and Deregulation is the client lead agency.
DEEWR has partnered with Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard and Infront Systems for the provision of various components of the solution:
- Infront Systems for the procurement of data storage equipment in a $1.5 million deal;
- Hewlett-Packard for server infrastructure in a $365,000 deal; and
- Fujitsu for the provision of gateway services for the whole-of-government PWS Measure under a $272,000 contract.
DEEWR received $6.4 million over five years for the capital costs of the project in the 2012-13 budget. The total budget allocation for the PWS is $10.3 million from 2011-12, to be fully recovered from participating agencies.
In its bid to promote the sharing of ICT systems, the Department of Finance and Deregulation has also established a Government Solutions Register that provides agencies with a list of ICT solutions that are available for re-use.
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