Last Friday, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) released a tender, for software facilities to support its business systems environment. For TGA’s core department, Health and Ageing, this represents one more step in its gradual consolidation into a core policy department.
The Department of Health and Ageing has typically changed in its span of responsibility with each election. Many years ago, the Department spent a short time as a mega department called DHHLGCS (Department of Health, Housing, Local Government and Community Services). The enormous span of responsibility of such an agency created clear difficulties in managing priorities.
Since that time, Health has gradually consolidated its responsibilities, shedding tasks that were not aligned with a core policy agency. Health has increasingly funded services delivered either through other government programs, or through other agencies such as state governments or Commonwealth authorities.
Key changes in recent years have included the transfer of responsibility for aged care payments to Medicare Australia.
Most recently, two tenders have been published on AusTender that continue the transformation.
On 26 June, National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) released a tender for consulting services to assist in “the establishment of IT infrastructure and services for the NHMRC, as an independent agency and the disengagement and migration of such services from the Department of Health and Ageing to a new managed service provider”.
On 21 September, TGA released a tender for a software environment to support its core business. As discussed in its 2007-08 Business Plan, TGA’s direction is to transform into a new independent agency with cross-Tasman responsibilities for therapeutic products. The new agency will be called the Australia New Zealand Therapeutic Products Authority (ANZTPA).
A key challenge for Health and Ageing in the coming election will be announcements by both political parties that may see the Department take a more direct role in the management of hospitals, traditionally the responsibility of state governments. The change may see a more direct service delivery role returning to the Department.