The last remnants of Labor’s ICT agenda have officially been thrown out by the LNP Government, with Queensland’s ICT Minister Ros Bates announcing the formal closure of the Government-wide Toward Q2 through ICT strategy.
The Strategy was first launched by former IT Minister Robert Schwarten and contained 94 initiatives that were to be delivered between 2009 and 2014. According to the strategy, these initiatives would have delivered more accessible, efficient, and effective services for both public servants and ordinary citizens.
The strategy aimed to have 50 per cent of all government interactions available online by 2012 and to reduce the per-unit cost of business-as-usual ICT expenditure by 15 per cent by 2013. It also made industry input into all ICT projects valued at more than $2 million compulsory, while at the same time streamlining the procurement process for low risk projects under $2 million.
The ICT Portfolio Management Office, within the Government Chief Information Office (GCIO), was established to oversee the roll-out of the strategy, and has now been dissolved as a consequence of the closure of the strategy.
Lead agencies will now assume management and control over any active ICT initiatives that were managed by the Office, which was officially shut down on 4 June 2012.
Of the seven staff members who have been affected by the closure, five will be redeployed to government posts they held prior to the establishment of the ICT Portfolio Management Office. The two remaining staff members, who were employed on a temporary basis, will not be rehired.
The closure of the ICT Portfolio Management Office coincides with broader belt-tightening across Queensland. The Department of Education, Training and Employment recently opted not to renew the contracts of 171 temporary IT staff. These cuts are part of a number of changes initiated by the LNP Government in order to secure the state’s balance sheet in preparation for its first Budget, which is due to be handed down in September 2012.
Resources that had originally been allocated to the ICT Portfolio Management Office have been redirected towards an ongoing state-wide ICT audit.
Announced on 24 May 2012 by the ICT Minister at an industry luncheon, the $5.2 million ICT audit aims to identify savings and efficiencies across the entire public sector. The findings of this audit, which will be released in October, may result in the cancellation of a number of ICT projects that were launched under the 14 year administration of the previous Labor Government.
“As resources are diverted into programs that align with the Newman government’s priorities, it is possible that some existing initiatives may be discontinued,” said Bates in a statement to Intermedium.
Bates has also previously criticised a number of ICT projects, foreshadowing the type of ICT policy reforms that are likely to make up part of a new ICT Strategic Plan.
The ICT audit will not examine Queensland Health’s highly controversial payroll system, which was instead subject to a recent KPMG Audit, revealing that an additional $836.9 million over five years will be required to fix the troubled system.