Last Thursday, Minister for Finance and Deregulation, the Hon Lindsay Tanner addressed the Australian Computer Society’s Canberra Conference, and on the same day AGIMO’s Ann Steward spoke to the Canberra Branch of the Institute of Public Administration. Both provided some useful updates on implementation of the recommendations of the Gershon Report.
Data centre strategy. Tanner underscored that AGIMO was charged with the development of a whole-of-government data centre strategy, which is aimed for completion by the end of September 2009. The strategy focuses on the Government’s future requirements in terms of energy and floor space, as well as flexibility to meet future inevitable Machinery of Government changes (the Administrative Arrangement Orders, which set out the legislative and program responsibilities of agencies).
Ann Steward revealed more than 60 suppliers and other interested parties have registered to participate in a series of data centre workshops coordinated by AGIMO and that AGIMO intends to publish the strategy. Steward indicated that AGIMO does not plan to buy or build data centres but rather develop strategies around power/people/processes, and coordinate agencies in their investments through collaboration and co-location.
Analysis of agency “Business as Usual” (BAU) expenditure. Ann Steward stated that Phase 1 of the BAU review process will be completed, as scheduled, by end March 2009. Baselines have been established with key agencies, with much greater clarity in their accounts as to what falls into BAU. In Intermedium’s view, Phase 1 clearly relates to the annual Budget process, hence the timing of due completion of this phase. Phase 2 will kick-off in April, and will focus on benchmarking.
Steward reported that while there has been contention in the Phase 1 process, agencies are progressively appreciating the value and working constructively. This contention is obviously also reflected at the Cabinet level; Lindsay Tanner reported sometimes “animated” discussions within the Cabinet ICT Committee as the Government prepares for the May 12 Budget.
Workforce Planning. Despite the economic downturn, ICT skill shortages persist in a number of key areas. Steward reported that the Public Service Commission (PSC), under former DIAC Deputy Secretary Carmel McGregor, is working on the workforce planning recommendations. In particular, she said the PSC is working on the development of more relevant ICT career profiles. Steward also reported on the success of the Government’s ICT Apprenticeship and Graduate Cadetships, which have attracted good numbers of recruits.
Sustainability. Both Tanner and Steward addressed the sustainability issue. The essence of what they said is that DEWHA is the lead agency in this area, led by Peter Woods, former DEWHA CIO, who now heads its Corporate Strategy Division. The initial focus is on possible quick wins – auto shutdown, ‘black’ screens, better use of metering, printing. In the long term, issues such as procurement requirements, will also be examined.
Industry Engagement. Both Tanner and Steward reiterated the Government’s objective to have industry input in key areas – especially around data centres, workforce planning and sustainability. Ann Steward also highlighted the Gershon Report’s recommendations in relation to supplier and agency codes of practice.
While Tanner spoke about the Cabinet ICT Committee, and Steward reported that pan-government committees of CIOs and another looking at business processes were well underway, one gap seems to be the make-up of the Secretaries ICT Governance Board (SIGB). Based on Sir Peter Gershon’s recommendations, this important executive board is expected also to have participation from the private sector.