Defence review takes aim at application sprawl

Complex application landscape reduces flexibility

The First Principles Review of Defence released today by the government has identified a "costly and complex" application landscape within the Defence Department as a source of waste and inefficiencies.

"Duplicated systems and processes reflect entrenched resistance to implementing businesslike approaches such as shared corporate services and the empowerment of single accountable officers in areas such as information management," the review argued.

Defence has more than 2500 applications, including 300 financial applications the review found. The complexity of the situation within defence "locks" data into systems and limits flexibility.

The review identified problems with both military and corporate information systems.

"While the Department’s intent has been to make the Chief Information Officer responsible for information management across Defence, in practice accountability has remained fragmented and unclear," the report states.

"There has been a lack of effective governance and control which has led to siloed solutions, especially in the military arena where the Chief Information Officer Group has less domain expertise and is further removed from the end user."

A push to increase interoperability and simplicity within Defence's information management systems should be driven "from the top" with the secretary and chief of Defence as champions, the report argues.

"We recommend that the Associate Secretary be directed and resourced to implement enterprise information management that provides Defence with trusted information to inform decision-making and military interoperability, with the Vice Chief of the Defence Force as the design authority for C4ISR [Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance systems]," the report states.

"We also recommend that the information management agenda be governed at the Band 3/3 star level by the Enterprise Business Committee to set overall direction and priorities, including the management of trade-offs and conflicts."

The Defence CIO's responsibility would be to "implement the enterprise information management agenda and be the authority for all enterprise networks".

"The Chief Information Officer would authorise all information management expenditure as a part of the planning cycle," the review states.

Defence should embark on a program to standardise business and information processes and the applications that support them.

"This will necessitate a move over time to a small number of standardised information and communications systems supporting enterprise-wide processes and a radically simplified application landscape through retiring legacy solutions and adopting enterprise master data," the report argues

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