• Enjoy the freedom to innovate and grow your business


    [ad] With Microsoft Azure you have hybrid cloud flexibility, allowing your platform to span your cloud and on premise data centre. Learn more at microsoftcloud.com.

  • IT Admin: No Time to Save Time?


    [ad] Do you spend too much time patching machines or cleaning up after virus attacks? With automation controlled from a central IT management console accessible anytime, anywhere – you can save time for bigger tasks. Try simple IT management from GFI Cloud and start saving time today!

  • Free Forrester analysis of CRM solutions


    [ad] In this 25 page report, independent analyst house Forrester evaluates 18 significant products in the customer relationship management space from a broad range of vendors, detailing its findings on how CRM suites measure up and plotting where they stand in relation to each other. Download it for free now.

  • Great articles on other sites
  • RSS Great articles on other sites


  • Reader giveaway: Google Nexus 5


    We’re big fans of Google’s Nexus line-up in general at Delimiter towers. Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10 … we love pretty much anything Nexus. Because of this we've kicked off a new competition to give away one of Google’s new Nexus 5 smartphones to a lucky reader. Click here to enter.

  • Enterprise IT, Featured, News - Written by on Friday, April 20, 2012 12:28 - 3 Comments

    Minister worried about AGIMO’s ability to deliver

    news Documents released under Freedom of Information laws have appeared to show that the minister overseeing the Federal Government’s peak IT decision-making agency is concerned about its ability to deliver on a whole of government technology strategy, with yet another review being commissioned into its performance.

    In the Federal Government, centralised IT strategy is put together by the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO), a unit within the Department of Finance and Deregulation which is overseen by Special Minister of State Gary Gray (pictured, right). The group, which is led by whole of government chief information officer Ann Steward, works with departmental CIOs and secretaries to set central IT policy in areas such as procurement and standards.

    However, AGIMO’s future has been under a cloud for the past 18 months following the delivery of a report in November 2010 produced by well-regarded IT consultant and former head of the government’s e-health agency, Dr Iain Reinecke. The document constituted a report card on how well the Government had implemented the recommendations of a wide-ranging report delivered in October 2008 into government IT service delivery, produced by British efficiency expert Sir Peter Gershon.

    Reinecke gave AGIMO’s performance and role some credit in his report but also noted there was a need for it to change — either separating its operations into separate parts or evolving it so that it communicated better and took on a more direct role in setting strategy.

    As the Government has not yet filed a formal response to the Reinecke report, several months ago, Delimiter filed a wide-ranging Freedom of Information request seeking any communication between Gray’s office and AGIMO which mentioned the report over the past year.

    In general, what the documents released this week show (see the full cache of documents online) is that Gray’s office has continually been briefed by AGIMO on possible questions on the Government’s response to the Reinecke report, both during the Senate Estimates process but also from journalists.

    However, one extensive memo (read the full document in PDF format here) which appears to have been issued by Gray’s office to David Tune, the secretary of the Department of Finance and Deregulation, reveals the Government also has concerns regarding AGIMO’s capacity to deliver at all on broader technology strategy within the government. It is believed the memo was penned by Gray, but the document does not mention a sender. It is possible, but very unlikely, that the memo could have been penned by Finance Minister Penny Wong.

    The memo reveals that since the Reinecke report was delivered in late 2010, AGIMO has developed a strategic vision for Government ICT, as the Reinecke report recommended. This vision has been reviewed by Reinecke, who completed a report into it in June 2011.

    Subsequently, it appears, Tune commissioned a review of AGIMO by Helen Williams, a retired public servant who previously led the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. This review examined “AGIMO’s capacity to implement the strategic vision and provide technology leadership in the Australian public service”.

    In the memo, dated October last year, Gray wrote that he was “somewhat surprised” that the Williams review of AGIMO had not yet been finalised, as he had understood that it was expected to be complete “at the latest by the end of August”.

    Delimiter is planning to file Freedom of Information requests for both AGIMO’s Strategic Vision document, as well as Reinecke’s review of that document, and William’s report into AGIMO.
    Because of the review, as well as feedback from the Secretaries’ Information Governance Board (SIGB, a group of departmental representatives which helps in shaping ICT governance within the Federal Government), Gray wrote that he was “reluctant” to sign off on AGIMO’s ICT Strategic Vision document.

    The Minister’s concern was that “the various discussions about ICT in the wake of these reviews have occurred in a closed circle that embraces SIGB and some input from AGIMO and CIOs, but much less from those executives tasked with resolving the major business issues in public administration”. Gray wrote that he understood that SIGB had not appointed any external members with ICT backgrounds, as both Gershon and Reinecke had recommended in their reports.

    Gray noted that he believed it would be timely to introduce other perspectives into the ICT Strategic Vision process — “especially from senior executives inside and external to government”. The Moran review of the Australian Public Service in 2010 might provide a model to utilise this expertise from a range of areas, he wrote.

    Adopting this kind of “taskforce” approach, would, according to Gray, help the government “break out of the current mould that appears to be constraining the emergence of initiatives that improve the way we manage ICT in government”. “External appointments to membership of SIGB would,” he added, “also enhance the process of seeking wider input from business as well as technology sources of expertise”.

    Gray also highlighted similar initiatives internationally, noting that administrations in the UK and USA had been focused on ensuring maximum value for money from ICT investment in the public sector.

    “The reviews of ICT major investments in these countries have revealed considerable waste from projects that have over – run budgets and timetables, at considerable costs both financially and in effectiveness,” Gray wrote. “They have also revealed the necessity for greater discipline by government agencies and increased central oversight to ensure that ICT projects meet their objectives.”

    Broadly, the Federal Government is known for having much stronger performance when it comes to the delivery of major ICT projects than Australia’s state governments, where a series of audits over the past half-decade have paraded a huge series of delayed, over-budget and dysfunctional technology projects. However, some projects in Federal Government, notably Custom’s Integrated Cargo System initiative and the Australian Taxation Office’s Change Program, have suffered extensive delays and delivery programs.

    In addition, in December last year, the Federal Government’s chief auditor warned that the Department of Defence’s ICT operation was teetering on the brink of a dangerous precipice, in a landmark report published into its current ICT governance structures and projects.

    “I understand that you currently have these matters under preliminary consideration,” Gray told Tune. “My concern is that the importance of the issues involved is not reflected in the urgency with which they are being addressed. I would welcome an indication from you about what practical measures of this kind you are proposing and the timetable for their adoption.”

    The need for a whole of government strategic ICT plan in the Federal Government has been a long-running issue in Australia. In January 2011, for example, independent analyst firm Ovum called on the Gillard government to publish a multi-year IT Strategic plan, claiming the state’s public sector needed a new list of priorities following the knife-edge 2010 election, which resulted in a minority Labor Government.

    At the time, Ovum government research director Kevin Noonan said the former Rudd’s government IT Plan delivered cost-saving policies, but left “cash-strapped” agencies unable to focus on new strategies; hence the need for a new one. “This plan needs to focus on delivering greater value and clear government outcomes, not just cost savings,” he said.

    opinion/analysis
    I have always been fairly ambivalent about AGIMO.

    The organisation does do some good work, and I particularly have to applaud the efforts of executives such as first assistant secretary John Sheridan, who has been instrumental in making its activities more transparent through its high-profile blog, consulting with external parties and providing leadership in general. I like what AGIMO’s been doing around whole of government IT procurement, standards-setting and so on, and this kind of work needs to continue. It’s important that the silos of Defence, Tax, Human Services, Immigration and so on are bridged in the Federal Government when it comes to technology service delivery.

    However, it is clear from Gray’s memo (if the memo is indeed from Gray) that the Minister believes AGIMO is flailing right now, and that he doesn’t have much confidence in the agency at all. This more or less represents a gut feeling I’ve had about AGIMO for many years.

    We have already had two wide-ranging reviews which went heavily into AGIMO’s role and ability to deliver — the Gershon and Reinecke reports — and now there’s a third to add into the mix, put together by Helen Williams. In addition, it looks as though AGIMO’s every move is being second-guessed, with Reinecke additionally reviewing the organisation’s ICT Strategic Vision and Gray clearly unwilling to sign off on it.

    To my mind, what all of this points to is a failure at the top of the ranks of AGIMO itself. In my opinion, Steward, since her appointment in mid-2005 (yes, I wrote that article back then — that’s how long I’ve been following this story!), has failed at truly leading AGIMO into a position of leadership in the government and building ongoing relationships with government stakeholders that would allow AGIMO to help drive positive change.

    Half a decade is enough — I’d like to see some fresh talent leading AGIMO. To be honest, I would like that talent to either be someone from within public sector ranks who understands how to communicate well — Sheridan being a very good fit for such a role — or a seasoned CIO from the private sector who could shake things up a bit in what appears to have become a stuck-in-the-mud IT strategy agency. This isn’t unprecedented — after all, the Department of Human Services appointed a private sector CIO to lead its operations when its long-time IT leader John Wadeson recently retired.

    At any rate, clearly some fresh thinking around AGIMO is needed right now. The alternative is the kind of political quagmire which it is mired in right now. Perhaps the only thing the agency can be thankful of is that the Opposition doesn’t seem to give two hoots about government IT service delivery. If this issue was raised more publicly, no doubt Gray would have taken action on this front with AGIMO way before now.

    Image credit (Gary Gray): Office of Gary Gray

    submit to reddit

    3 Comments

    You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

    1. John Sheridan
      Posted 20/04/2012 at 12:47 pm | Permalink |

      It would be a very significant error to assume that I could be doing what I do without being encouraged and empowered by my boss and our department. AGIMO’s success in the areas Renai identifies could not have been achieved without Ann’s leadership. Leadership in the APS is as much or more about accountability than it is about visibility.

      (this is my personal opinion)

      • Posted 20/04/2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink |

        hey John,

        firstly let me say that I appreciate your comment.

        I understand that your efforts have been backed by the broader leadership of AGIMO and are not attributable to your alone. However, for an organisation like AGIMO, which by its nature must work with many stakeholders across government, visibility of leadership and vision is key.

        From my perspective, as a leader Anne Steward has been virtually invisible for most of the past half-decade she has been steering AGIMO. I very rarely hear anything about her work or leadership.

        Gray’s memo makes it very clear that there is a ministerial crisis of confidence in AGIMO’s leadership. Where, I ask you, should the blame for that be laid, if not at the door of its leader?

        I mention your name only because you have been the public face of most of the positive work that AGIMO has done that has been visible to outsiders. This, and your position, make you the most obvious internal succession candidate, were AGIMO to go through a change of leadership. There are obviously other succession options, inside the Federal or State Governments, from the private sector or even internationally.

        For what it’s worth, I wish the organisation well. Its function is essential in the Federal Government. The public sector needs AGIMO to be an effective unit in order to drive positive technological change across silos. But clearly things cannot go on as they have been.

        Cheers,

        Renai

    2. Posted 27/04/2012 at 9:45 am | Permalink |

      It is a shame that your hard work, Renai, gets a mention by ITNews, but no link to this article – just the site in general. Perhaps it would be noted that the article is a re-hash of your work, not a new take on the same issues.

      As for AGIMO – John & Anne, for example, perhaps the reason for the lack of visibility is that you are not in Canberra, where I have met with AGIMO staff several times and even got to have a word with Anne. So much for invisibility. They aren’t averse to meeting with industry, as long as there is a benefit to both parties. Meetings for the sake of a meeting just don’t happen.

      There are gaps in the information chain, but I would place the blame at the feet of the relevant minister. According to the other article, the Williams report was “secret” – that is, not known to AGIMO or the CIOs of the other agencies. Whether it was secretly commissioned or not is not the question here. The question is whether the report was warranted, and whether the report findings actually damaged the strategic ICT vision, as laid out by AGIMO.

      Do we want to return to the days of the DAS contracts? Do we need NOIE to be reinstated? This report has obviously been commissioned to torpedo the Vision, currently in draft form – A document I have read, and agree with on certain points. Here is the draft link – http://agimo.govspace.gov.au/2011/04/13/ict-strategic-vision/

      Perhaps the best way to allow AGIMO to do its job is to allow it to Do Its Job. Ministers and the PM should have confidence in the department, stop second guessing and get on with other important matters.

      Has anyone asked how much the Williams report cost? has anyone checked with the governments claimed to have implemented Gershon’s recommendations to see how far reaching they were and what impacts they had on the ICT industries in those countries?

      The ministers should be worried about the future of the government, and just approve the draft – a start is better than nothing, after all.




    Get our 'Best of the Week' newsletter on Fridays

    Just the most important stories, one email a week.

    Email address:


  • Most Popular Content


  • Six smart secrets for nurturing customer relationships
    [ad] Today, we are experiencing a world where behind every app, every device, and every connection, is a customer. Your customers will demand you to be where they and managing customer relationship is the key to your business’s growth. The question is where do you start? Click here to download six free whitepapers to help you connect with your customers in a whole new way.
  • Enterprise IT stories

    • NetSuite in whole of business TurboSmart deal turbosmart

      Business-focused software as a service giant NetSuite has unveiled yet another win with a mid-sized Australian company, revealing a deal with automotive performance products manufacturer Turbosmart that has seen the company deploy a comprehensive suite of NetSuite products across its business.

    • WA Health told: Hire a goddamn CIO already doctor

      A state parliamentary committee has told Western Australia’s Department of Health to end four years of acting appointments and hire a permanent CIO, in the wake of news that the lack of such an executive role in the department contributed directly to the fiasco at the state’s new Fiona Stanley Hospital, much of which has revolved around poorly delivered IT systems.

    • Former whole of Qld Govt CIO Grant resigns petergrant

      High-flying IT executive Peter Grant has left his senior position in the Queensland State Government, a year after the state demoted him from the whole of government chief information officer role he had held for the second time.

    • Hills dumped $18m ERP/CRM rollout for Salesforce.com hills

      According to a blog post published by Salesforce.com today, one of Ted Pretty’s first moves upon taking up managing director role at iconic Australian brand Hills in 2012 was to halt an expensive traditional business software project and call Salesforce.com instead.

    • Dropbox opens Sydney office koalabox

      Cloud computing storage player Dropbox has announced it is opening an office in Sydney, as competition in the local enterprise cloud storage market accelerates.

    • Heartbleed, internal outages: CBA’s horror 24 hours commbankatm

      The Commonwealth Bank’s IT division has suffered something of a nightmare 24 hours, with a catastrophic internal IT outage taking down multiple systems and resulting in physical branches being offline, and the bank separately suffering public opprobrium stemming from contradictory statements it made with respect to potential vulnerabilities stemming from the Heartbleed OpenSSL bug.

    • Android in the enterprise: Three Aussie examples from Samsung androidapple

      Forget iOS and Windows. Today we present three decently sized deployments of Android in the Australian market on Samsung’s hardware, which the Korean vendor has dug up from its archives over the past several years for us after a little prompting :)

    • Businesslink cancelled Office 365 rollout cancelled

      Microsoft has been on a bit of a tear recently in Australia with its cloud-based Office 365 platform, signing up major customers such as the Queensland Government, Qantas, V8 Supercars and rental chain Mr Rental. And it’s not hard to see why, with the platform’s hybrid cloud/traditional deployment model giving customers substantial options. However, as iTNews reported last week, it hasn’t been all plain sailing for Redmond in this arena.

    • Qld Govt inks $26.5m deal for Office 365 walker

      The Queensland State Government yesterday announced it had signed a $26.5 million deal with Microsoft which will gain the state access to Microsoft’s Office 365 software and services platform. However, with the deal not covering operating system licences and not being mandatory for departments and agencies, it remains unclear what its impact will be.

    • Hospital IT booking system ‘putting lives at risk’ doctor

      A new IT booking platform at the Austin Hospital and Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Melbourne is reportedly placing the welfare of patients with serious conditions at risk.

  • Enterprise IT, News - Apr 17, 2014 16:39 - 0 Comments

    NetSuite in whole of business TurboSmart deal

    More In Enterprise IT


    News, Telecommunications - Apr 17, 2014 11:01 - 105 Comments

    Turnbull lies on NBN to Triple J listeners

    More In Telecommunications


    Featured, Industry, News - Apr 17, 2014 9:28 - 0 Comments

    Campaign Monitor takes US$250m from US VC

    More In Industry


    Digital Rights, News - Apr 17, 2014 12:41 - 12 Comments

    Anti-piracy lobbyist enjoys cozy email chats with AGD Secretary

    More In Digital Rights