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Gershon’s Report: The devil’s in the detail!

by Staff Writers •
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True to expectations, Sir Peter Gershon produced a report with clear arguments and measurable results. However this simplicity can easily disguise what is a major shift in the relationship between government and suppliers. There are significant and complex issues arising for both if the report’s recommendations are endorsed by the Cabinet. In many ways, the changes herald a new government ICT marketplace. Suppliers, in particular, need to understand early what this means to their future business, and start positioning themselves.

Already, new Procurement Guidelines have been released and changes to key legislation are before parliament.

Gershon reported widespread shortcomings in both management and governance. He described a fundamental disconnect between government policy intent and ICT outcomes.

However, he avoided the temptation to simply engage in IT bashing, but instead looked more deeply at the root cause for these problems. The outcomes are likely to have a significant impact on future procurement activity.

Gershon’s analysis uncovered serious underlying failures in governance at all levels. At a whole-of-government level, Gershon found the commitment to ICT guidelines is largely optional. This has lead to a situation where agencies are rewarded more for acting as independent entities. The lack of appropriate governance has then cascaded through to an agency and project level where relevant standards are not widely used, and outcomes to government are not sufficiently measured.

In a post-Gershon world, business engagement is now looking very different. Traditionally, ICT staff have been chastised for not being sufficiently business focussed – and rightly so! In the post-Gershon world, the business has been chastised for not being sufficiently ICT focussed.

Recent changes to the CPGs and the FMA Act, support this change of focus. There are now tighter definitions of roles and responsibilities for Agency Heads, and commitments to whole of government initiatives.

In the wash-up, we are likely to see the senior end of government agencies becoming laser focussed on ICT governance, standards and procedures. While business executives may not understand them, executives will want to see concrete evidence of their existence.

It will no longer be sufficient for vendors to submit tenders that are inwardly focussed, with a “trust us” attitude. Show us the evidence will be the catch cry, and business executives will now be leading the charge!

So what does this mean for winning tenders in the future?

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