Reinecke to audit Gershon outcomes


The office of Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner has confirmed the Federal Government has engaged former e-health executive and chief information officer Ian Reinecke to conduct a review of progress on implementing recommendations from Sir Peter Gershon’s wide-ranging report on government technology use.

As first reported by the Financial Review, Reinecke began work in March this year, and will report to Government on his findings by mid-2010.

Reinecke has a strong history in public sector technology circles; he was the independent advisor to the NSW Government’s recent ‘Better Services and Value Taskforce’ reviewing the state government’s use of ICT from September 2009, and was the founding CEO of the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) from 2004 through 2008.

He has also been the chief information officer of the Sydney Olympics and a pro vice-chancellor at the University of Queensland.

The Gershon report was a landmark review into Federal Government technology use by British efficiency expert Sir Peter Gershon. Since its public release in October 2008, Federal departments and agencies have been enmeshed in a process of improving the way they use technology, as steered by the Australian Government Information Management Office.

“In his report, Sir Peter recommended that “… an independent review of progress be undertaken in the first quarter of 2010,” said Tanner’s office in a statement issued late last week. “Following advice from the Secretaries’ ICT Governance Board (SIGB), Minister Tanner has appointed Dr Ian Reinecke to conduct the review recommended by Sir Peter.”

Reinecke’s review will examine the progress of the Gershon recommendations, as well as advising on the effectiveness of implementation of the seven key areas the British expert outlined, as well as any corrective action required.

“The Review will also examine and make recommendations on the future role of the Australian Government Information Management Office as a result of the ICT Reform Program,” Tanner’s statement said.

Reinecke was appointed to the role on the recommendation from the Secretaries’ ICT Governance Board — which comprises representatives at the secretary or CEO role of Federal departments including the Department of Human Services, Prime Minister and Cabinet, Customs and more.

“The Reviewer will seek input from government agencies, industry, and other key stakeholders. The Minister for Finance and Deregulation has not prescribed which agencies Dr Reinecke should include in his consultations so that the Review is truly independent,” Tanner’s statement said.

Reinecke’s career has not been free from controversy.

In October 2007 a Boston Consulting Group review of NEHTA found it was broadly meeting its goals under his stewardship, but pilloried its abysmal communication skills, saying its engagement with the majority of stakeholders “has been ineffective and has created a cycle of criticism, defensiveness and isolation”.

Reinecke resigned from the group in April 2008. Since that time the executive has been involved in a number of other government-related technology initiatives — such as the Government 2.0 Taskforce in 2009. In addition, it was revealed in mid-209 that Reinecke had provided consulting services to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s department, picking up $70,000 for a week’s worth of services in late February 2009.

Image credit: Phil Ragen, royalty free


      • No. To simply cut contractors. It’s happened on a larger scale in other government agencies … wholesale slashing of contractors for absolutely no good reason other than that’s what managers thought they were meant to do. Now they complain about an ICT skills shortage … and there’s a lot of disgruntled ex-contractors out there who either won’t given the public sector a second chance or will do so very warily.

        On the surface, contractors get paid a lot of money … but we don’t get paid leave or any of the benefits of permanent staff. Do all the calculations and it really doesn’t work out to be that much more. It’s just that for contractors, who spend only up to 12 months in any one role it works better for them. And the technical expertise they bring is quite valuable and should be recognised.

        Should ICT contractors be prepared to settle for APS6 roles and pay? It’s a tough question and I don’t particularly want to go into who I think is more valuable to an organisation, but I don’t think ICT contractors fit within the APS structure at all.

        I’ve had to because my current employer doesn’t do contractors. I got promoted to EL1 less than 3 months into the job because my boss didn’t feel it was right I should only be an APS6 with my skills and experience. But when I finish this role in 2 months I’ll have to leave the APS again, go find another contract, maybe private sector, maybe public and if public I may have to join the APS again.

        The system wasn’t designed to have staff drifting in and out of the APS a couple of times a year. The whole approach to engaging short-term specialist staff needs to be addressed properly, and soon otherwise all ex-government contractors who’ve suffered under Gershon will find nice $150p/h jobs in the private sector and ICT in government will stall.

        • It does seem that a number of contractors got a very raw deal from the Gershon process. The first thing is that it seems to have come rather suddenly, which is not great, and I think probably the process could have been better managed.

          I am in two minds in general about Govt agencies using contractors. One the one hand, they are often highly skilled individuals who can come in, do an amazing job, and then move onto the next amazing job. I am fine with this and obviously they should be remunerated appropriately.

          On the other hand, I’m not necessarily in favour of keeping contractors around for years working on support and lower-order tasks that are not project-oriented. The reason is that this can normally be done better internally with staff that can then retain the skills they learn etc. And there is the obvious cost.

          I’m not sure which one you were Nathanael, but I suspect you are pretty skilled — otherwise you likely would have an uneducated perspective on it all etc.

          • It’s true, there were/are some agencies that have had contractors on the books for years and years. That’s not the point. Contractors should be short-term project-based. I was at DEEWR for nearly 3 years, partly as contractor, partly APS and that was too long even though my role changed three times.

            When I was let go with one week’s notice I was ok with that … I get paid to take on the risk of having no job stability and to (if I saved properly) tide me across until I can find new work. Contractors are half-way between permanent staff and consultants. It’s a style of working, even a lifestyle choice.

            I’d like to think I’m one of the skilled contractors :)

          • I’ve been both a contractor at various times (sysadmin) and also a permanent staffer. Overall I preferred being a permanent staffer, but now I prefer to run my own business — having customers is a darn site easier than having bosses! ;)

  1. Whatever happened to the project share concept? I do hope they worked out that it was a mistake to share resources between the departments. no point promoting someone to Sec: TS if they cannot keep the classification on the next shift for projects.

    Perhaps someone should have a chat to the UK government and see exactly what policies were implemented from gershon’s review of the UK system. I bet that they haven’t implemented half of what has been said they did.

    • The thing that bothered me about the whole Gershon process was how little time the guy actually spent in Australia — it seemed like he had a couple of quick visits, but most of it was done with teleconferencing etc. I sometimes wonder how much of his recommendations were rubber stamp stuff from the UK.

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