Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner has revealed his strategy for achieving ‘stage 2’ cuts in Federal Government ICT expenditure with the announcement of an independent review of the Australian Government's management of information and communication technology.
The review will be led by Sir Peter Gershon, former Chief Executive of the UK Treasury’s Office of Government Commerce.
Sir Peter has an impressive track record in identifying critical issues and bringing forward clear recommendations for change to improve efficiency in public sector operations. In 1999, he led a review of civil procurement in the UK that resulted in the establishment of the Office of Government Commerce (OGC). Some frameworks and processes developed by OGC are already evident in Australian government procurement.
More significant is a review of public sector efficiency undertaken by Gershon for the UK Treasury in 2004. Subsequent to this review, as Lindsay Tanner noted in his media release, “the UK Government achieved an estimated £23 billion in budget savings.” It is fair to assume those impressive results may well have set some expectations with the Finance Minister and his Department!
It is important for both agencies and vendors to study the recommendations made in the major reviews Gershon has already completed, as these indicate some of the issues he’ll address in the Australian context. And while there’s ample evidence the same problems exist here, notwithstanding officials desire to differentiate their agency’s situation or the Australian environment, a number of initiatives proposed by Gershon, such as programme budgeting and accrual accounting are already firmly entrenched in the Federal Government.
Much more will become evident once the Terms of Reference for the Gershon Review are revealed as well as those whom he seconds to his team, as these will indicate the scope of change that might ensue.
The review is expected to be completed in September.