news The new LNP Queensland State Government has kicked off a substantial drive to reduce the amount it spends on technology-related goods and services, even ahead of a landmark audit of the state’s public sector technology use, expected to be handed down in December this year.
In a brief statement to Delimiter late last week, Paul Campbell, executive officer of the state-funded ICT Industry Workgroup, confirmed that his office had had its funding cut, after a detailed report on ZDNet.com outed the situation on Thursday.
The group was set up in 2005 to represent the industry to government, with the aim of building closer links between the pair. However, it has struggled in its mission over its history, with the state’s ICT sector often having an acrimonious relationship with the Government. In addition, it has suffered criticism from other industry groups in the state for what some saw as too close a relationship with the state government.
Also last week, new Queensland Technology Minister Ros Bates issued a media release noting that the state was planning to kick off a wide-ranging program aimed at cutting the amount of money it spent on printing. Bates said a senior level officer in each department would be assigned to manage and coordinate print services, including budget and consolidating print-related purchases.
“Settings on all print devices will also be optimised to reduce the use of energy and consumables,” she said. “All machines will be set to print in black and white, double-sided at draft quality and colour printing will be only used where necessary. All print devices will also have settings enabled for energy saving/sleep modes when they are not in use.”
Bates said the changes were the first to come out of a wide-ranging ICT audit Queensland is currently conducting and which is due to produce its final report in December this year. “We expect to see many more [changes],” said Bates, “resulting in millions of dollars more in savings for taxpayers.”
Bates said that the Newman Government was committed to cutting waste, ensuring taxpayers’ money was used wisely and paying down the massive debt left behind by Labor. “Money that is saved through initiatives like this can be reinvested to revitalise frontline services, such as hospitals, police and education and the ICT systems that support them,” she said.
The cuts come just weeks after the Courier-Mail newspaper reported that IT jobs were also on the line in some Queensland departments. “The Sunday Mail has been told 180 temporary IT staff in the Department of Education – whose contracts end on June 30 – will be told tomorrow they are not needed after some had long-term contracts with the Government for years,” the newspaper reported in late May.
However, at least one major area of the Queensland public sector has been spared so far, although its future is not assured. A landmark report into the Queensland Government’s financial position penned by Howard-era Treasurer Peter Costello and published in June recommended the state government consider selling off its IT shared services units CITEC and Queensland Shared Services, as there was no guarantee they could provide IT services to the government efficiently.
However, in its interim response to the Costello report published last week, the new LNP Government made no immediate mention of the future of the IT shared services units. Their fate may be further detailed in the State’s next budget in September, at which point the Government expects to make further announcements in relation to the Costello report.
After 20-odd years of Labor in power, it’s no surprise that the new LNQ Queensland Government is wielding the axe. I would say it’s a pretty bad time to be working in technology in the state government – unless you’re the sort of technologist who loves implementing programs to make things more efficient and cut costs. In that case, it’s probably a great time to be around ;)