Federal Govt centralises IT spending

The Federal Government has moved to dramatically recentralise its IT investment policy with the launch of a new 'federated' structure to oversee and coordinate ICT investment and governance (ICTIG) for the whole of government.

The moves have been announced in a report released by the Australian Public service Commission's Management Advisory Committee (MAC) entitled "Australian Government Use of Information Technology - A New Governance and Investment Framework".

The initiative appears to, at the very least, represent partial distancing from the Government's previous policy of wholesale, agency-led outsourcing to that of a common "strategic direction", backed by a central advisory bureau and knowledge pool.

According to the document, the new structure sees the formation of a "two-tiered peak level Information Management Strategy Committee (IMSC), supported by a chief information officer committee", with the former approving a "work plan" for the latter.

Tellingly, the new structure has also been tasked with "identifying the key lessons learned which would assist agencies entering into new and 'second generation' ICT sourcing agreements", although individual agencies will still retain control over procurement.

Steve Alford, general manager of NOIE's business strategies branch was quick to hose down any speculation that the new committee would see agencies combining to leverage better prices from vendors.

"[It] won't be so much about entering the marketplace and using buying capacity to crunch the vendors. It will be more about learning what is a value proposition for your agency, and that includes a total cost of ownership model . . . and seeking to get the best mix of outcomes and price that suit your agency's business," Alford said.

"Like any process, the outsourcing that has gone on has created certain lessons. Those lessons sometimes parallel experiences overseas, and what you should be doing is seeking to do it better the second time around."

In a conspicuous effort to add weight to the new Federal IT investment strategy, Public Service big-guns Max Moore-Wilton, secretary, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Andrew Podger, Australian Public Service Commissioner and NOIE CEO John Rimmer were rolled out to launch the new initiative.

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