A number of significant changes of Machinery of Government (MOG) are likely to ensue following the announcement of the Gillard Ministry on Saturday September 11. These structural changes will impact on government business and the ICT market.
Prime Minister Gillard’s former behemoth portfolio of Education, Employment, Workplace Relations and Social Inclusion has been split between three Ministers:
- Peter Garrett is now Minister for Schools, Early Childhood and Youth;
- Senator Chris Evans is now Minister for Jobs, Skills and Workplace Relations (which includes responsibility for undergraduate tertiary education); and
- Tania Plibersek has been appointed Minister for Human Services and Minister for Social Inclusion.
It is highly likely these Portfolio responsibilities will see new departmental working arrangements and also highly probable that new departments will emerge. What is certain is that whatever MOG changes occur, they will impact the ICT functions formerly within the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR).
Furthermore, with the creation of a Digital Productivity Ministry with whole-of-government responsibilities there must now be conjecture as to which Department the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) will reside within.
AGIMO currently sits within the Department of Finance and Deregulation (Finance) and is responsible for key elements of whole-of-government ICT strategy.
In picking up responsibility for Digital Productivity, Senator Stephen Conroy retains his Broadband, Communications, and Digital Economy responsibilities. However, he has not previously had any responsibility for the government’s application of ICT. Over the three years of the previous Labor Government, such whole-of-government responsibility fell to previous Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner, and through him, to AGIMO. However with Penny Wong – who has no previous background in ICT policy-making – now appointed to the Finance Minister role, there is a very real chance that AGIMO might move Departments.
Responsibility for the environment, water and housing will now fall under Tony Burke’s portfolio of Sustainable Development. This expanded portfolio is also likely to result in a new department.
Any MOG changes that are announced as a result of the appointment of the new Ministry will follow the new guidelines set out in the second edition of the Government’s Implementing Machinery of Government Changes: A Good Practice Guide, released in August 2010.
The guide, devised by Finance and the Australian Public Service Commission, outlines the process for post-election administrative re-arrangements.
It suggests that the Prime Minister acts on the advice of the Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) in deciding government machinery arrangements. Under the Australian Constitution, these decisions have to be formally put in place by the Governor-General with the release of an Administrative Arrangements Order (AAO).
“Once the Prime Minister has announced the Ministry and new administrative arrangements, PM&C will consult affected departments to ensure the detail of the MOG (Machinery of Government) changes is accurately reflected in the new AAO that has been prepared. PM&C also advises Finance and the Commission as soon as possible of the changes to departmental arrangements,” the document states.
AAOs are usually released three to five days following the Ministerial announcement. Once the new departments have been established there is a rigorous process of monitoring and consultation to ensure functionality and compliance with relevant legislation.
For a more detailed analysis of these issues and overview of the ICT implications of these unchartered political waters, join us for out ICT Signposts: Post-Election Briefing.