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ICT audit scheduled for release within six weeks

by Pallavi Singhal •
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With approximately six weeks until the end of 2014, the Department of Finance has confirmed that the 2014 scheduled release of the Federal ICT audit still stands.

The audit, which commenced in March 2014, was flagged in the Coalition’s pre-election Policy for eGovernment and the Digital Economy.

“All ICT-related spending and investment over the last three years by government agencies is within scope, including major ICT enabled projects and programs,” said a Finance spokesperson.

The audit costs are being met from resources within Finance where a team of four is conducting the review.

The last major review of Government ICT was undertaken by the previous Labor Government following its election in 2007. The Gershon review, which was handed down in August 2008 made wide-reaching recommendations for greater ICT efficiency and cost-saving measures, which were accepted in full by the Government.

These included cuts in ICT Business-as-Usual budgets of 15 per cent from 2007-08 levels for agencies with an annual IT spend of over $20 million, and 7.5 per cent cuts for smaller agencies.

The review also recommended a 50 per cent reduction in public sector ICT contractors over two years, offset by an increase in APS staff, but these targets were never achieved, according to Intermedium analysis of AusTender contracts data.

The Gershon review was also responsible for the establishment of the Secretaries’ ICT Governance Board (SIGB) and a whole-of-government approach to data centre procurement, including the Australian Government Data Centre Strategy 2010-2015 and associated panels.

The May 2014 National Commission of Audit Report made a number of key recommendations relating to ICT, including the establishment of a cloud panel and a ‘cloud first’ policy. The Government has moved on both, with the establishment of a non-mandatory Cloud Services Panel and a Government Cloud Computing Policy requiring agencies to consider cloud first where appropriate.

In addition, the Government has acted on its election promise of APS staff cuts as a means of reducing the cost of Government administration. A job freeze was implemented in October 2013 (immediately following the election), with an aim to cut the APS by 12,000 over two years. Intermedium found that a significant number of job cuts at that time impacted ICT staff.

Balancing this, the adoption of technology to improve the Government efficiency and productivity is becoming apparent in the Department of the Environment’s ‘one-stop shops’ and the Department of Human Services’ myGov portal.

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