Federal Government agencies are likely to adopt a self-assessment tool created by the UK Office of Government Commerce to evaluate their ICT capabilities within the month as part of Gershon Review changes.
The P3M3 (Portfolio, Programme and Project Management Maturity Model) tool has already been piloted by four agencies – the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), CrimTrac, Geoscience Australia, and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR).
"The work in adopting the UK Office of Government Commerce capability assessment tool, called P3M3, the pilot of that among four agencies has gone very well and we think that is likely to be adopted as a whole of government tool in the relatively near future," Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) division manager, John Sheriden, said.
"That is not a decision that has to go back to government, it will be considered in due course by the Secretaries' ICT Governance Board."
The adoption of the tool stems out of Sir Peter Gershon's review of the Federal Government's use of ICT undertaken at the behest of Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Lindsay Tanner, in April 2008.
In his report that was made available in October last year, Gershon slammed the Australian Government’s use and management of ICT as weak while making seven main recommendations:
- 1. Strengthen pan-government governance
- 2. Strengthen agency governance
- 3. Tighten the management of ICT business as usual funding
- 4. Enhance the management of the public service ICT skills base, including reducing the number of contractors by 50 per cent
- 5. Develop a whole-of-government data centre strategy
- 6. Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the ICT marketplace
- 7. Improve the sustainability of ICT use
The first recommendation involved, among other things, the setting up of the Secretaries' ICT Governance Board (SIGB), which has been completed and operational for some time overseeing the rollout of Gershon changes.
And recently, Tanner announced a panel of data centre providers to service Federal Government agencies while they develop the whole-of-government strategies. Polaris Data Centres, Canberra Data Centres, Fujitsu, Global Switch Property and Harbour MSP were selected.
The decision to go with the P3M3 tool takes the federal agencies one step closer to fulfilling the goals of the second recommendation, in particular sections 2.1 and 2.2 as outlined by Gershon here, and should provide independent verification of agencies' abilities to undergo ICT projects. This may then be linked to an approval process for project funding.
Sheriden also told Computerworld the agencies' ICT benchmarking reports, which will show progress on skill development and contractor cutting, will be available by the end of October. And by the end of 2009, a sustainability plan being developed with the help of the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) and a supplier code of conduct are also due.
The AGIMO division manager hit back at media reports the Federal Government would not be able to hit its budget reduction targets as part of recommendation three, describing recent reports as "not particularly well informed".
"In terms of meeting the business as usual (BAU) budget reduction target, which was of $1016 million over four years, 2009 through 2013, I think we are on track to be very close to that target," Sheriden said. He would not elaborate on how close, "very close" is.
In August it was announced the BAU changes had created $109 million of savings in the 2009/10 financial year. Half of that figure ($54.6 million) was to be immediately available for reinvestment by Federal agencies. The Government also signed a Volume Sourcing Arrangement (VSA) with Microsoft in February, a move that Sheriden claimed will provide an average savings of $15 million a year over four years.
The first of the new panels and contracts is expected by the end of this financial year. It will involve “desktop computing equipment, telecommunications invoice reconciliation services and Internet-based network connections”.