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New administrative arrangements for Federal Government departments announced

by Staff Writers •
Free resource

Following the swearing in of the Gillard Ministry on Tuesday 14 September, the Governor-General Quentin Bryce has released an Administrative Arrangements Order (AAO) outlining the Machinery of Government (MOG) structures for the new government.   The impacts are confined to a small number of agencies and ICT suppliers.

The affected agencies are the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, (Infrastructure) as well as at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C).

Infrastructure has been divided to create two new Departments, DEWHA has been substantially altered with the inclusion of new policy responsibilities but the loss of others and PM&C takes on a raft of new responsibilities.

The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), one of the first ‘Super Departments’ will retain its current structure according to the AAO.  Intermedium had speculated that it was an agency that might have been subject to a split to serve the Ministers who now have responsibility for different aspects of the previous portfolio. 

In the Ministerial reshuffle, Prime Minister Gillard clarified that responsibilities for education would be split between Peter Garrett as Minister for Schools, Early Childhood and Youth, and Senator Chris Evans as Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations. 

The retention of DEEWR as a single agency serving more than one Minister is as yet relatively uncommon at the Federal level, despite the precedent of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade which (with the exception of the period between 1990 and 1998 when Gareth Evans was Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade) has served both a Minister for Foreign Affairs and a Minister for Trade since its creation in 1987.

DEEWR and DFAT are not alone in this arrangement in the Gillard Government, with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet now serving six different Ministers across a range of policy areas including work and family policy coordination, national security policy coordination, counter terrorism and cyber policy coordination, social inclusion, cultural affairs (heritage and the arts), Australian Government employment workplace relations and sport and recreation. 

Under the AAO, the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) will remain unchanged and will continue to have key responsibility for broadband policy and programs.  DBCDE will deal with “national policy issues relating to the digital economy” and “content policy relating to the information economy”, according to the AAO.

The Department of Finance and Deregulation (Finance) will retain its key functions including dealing with matters relating to “government on-line delivery and information technology and communications management”.  While the AAO does not explicitly mention responsibility for the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO), this description clearly indicates AGIMO’s function will remain within Finance. 

Unlike DEEWR, DBCDE and Finance which remain unaltered, the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government has been separated into two Departments to reflect the Ministerial appointments.  There will now be a Department of Infrastructure and Transport and a separate Department of Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government, the latter of which will sit inside the Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio.  Glenys Beauchamp, a Deputy Secretary at PM&C will act in the position of Departmental Secretary. 

The creation of the new Regional Australia Department is a clear response to the agreement between the Gillard Government and the rural Independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor which formed the basis for a second Labor term.  Section 6.2 of this agreement explains that in exchange for the support of the Independents, the Government will “restructure the workings of government, the public service and the Parliament to ensure fairer treatment of regional Australia”.

The new functions to be added in PM&C are likely to create a number of ICT impacts as staff transition to the new working arrangements.  Under a four year, $15.2m contract which ends on 30 June 2012, ASG Group provided IT managed services to the old Infrastructure Department.

Infrastructure’s largest other ongoing contract is for the provision of an Air Cargo and Transport Security System which commenced in May 2010 and extends to June 2015.  Valued at $2m, it is with Cordelta.

ASG also provides managed services to PM&C.  In March 2010, it was announced that ASG had successfully recontested its IT managed services contract and had entered into a contract worth up to $41m over 9 years for the management of desktops, servers and networks.

The AAO also announced the formation of a Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, in line with Tony Burke’s new Ministerial responsibilities.   This department takes key elements of the former Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), but adds to it sustainability, population and communities, while losing Heritage and the Arts to PM&C.  Dr Paul Grimes, an Associate Secretary at PM&C will act as Secretary until a permanent appointment is made.

DEWHA has a five year, $72m contract for the Provision of Desktop, LAN, Helpdesk and Midrange Services with Datacom Systems Pty Ltd, which is scheduled to end in June 2014.   It also has a $6.6m contract with Ewater Limited for the ‘accelerated development of River Manager’ which commenced in June 2008 and ends in June 2011.

The new department will have responsibility for the environment and water aspects of DEWHA’s agenda as well as sustainable population policy which was previously administered by the Treasury. 

  • Federal
  • Policy
  • AAO
  • ASG Group
  • Datacom
  • dbcde
  • DFAT
  • Gareth Evans
  • Glenys Beauchamp
  • Paul Grimes
  • PM&C
  • Quentin Bryce
  • Tony Burke