CSIRO Outsourcing Update

Despite strong opposition by the science body's staff and calls to halt the controversial program, plans are still afoot to outsource the CSIRO's IT infrastructure.

The Office of Asset Sales and IT Outsourcing (OASITO) will send out tender notifications to industry in early November for the Group Nine cluster of commonwealth agencies which includes the CSIRO.

Tenders will then be released in March 2001, OASITO Group Nine project coordinator Rod Whithear confirmed this week.

OASITO is continuing with this timetable for tenders although a scoping paper to determine a suitable outsourcing model for the CSIRO is incomplete and was onlu to be made available to the federal government until the end of this month.

Minister for Finance and Administration John Fahey said he would await the outcome of the scoping paper before determining if the CSIRO's IT will be partially or completely outsourced, at which time he will take into account its special needs as a research body (CW August 14, P1).

The scoping paper, which will also take into account the need to safeguard CSIRO's intellectual property, followed national strike action in August by CSIRO staff.

Describing the tender timetable as an "ambitious target" CSIRO deputy chief executive Ron Sandland said it is important the organisation's position is accurately reflected in any documents sent to industry in November.

Sandland said consultations have been held with staff and the CSIRO is currently collating input for the scoping study.

He said "there is no clear direction" as to how models being examined in the scoping study will apply to CSIRO. Opposition IT spokesperson Senator Kate Lundy has called on the government to halt the IT outsourcing program in the wake of a damning report by the Australian National Audit Office.

However, as the government has made it clear it is moving ahead with the outsourcing program but Lundy has asked for the CSIRO to be excluded to prevent damage to its research and development capability.

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