A round-up of 2012 in government IT


Canberra Australia Parliament House Twilight

blog It’s 2013 already (I know, I know, it’s not yet formally 2013 in Australia until after Australia Day, but still), but as we think about the year ahead in public sector technology projects, it’s worth giving ourselves a quick refresher course in what happened last year. Most of the articles posted by government IT research house Intermedium are behind its paywall, but this excellent round-up of 2012 in government IT isn’t, and is worth a read — we recommend you spend a few minutes with it. A sample paragraph with reference to the ongoing disaster situation in Queensland:

“The Bligh Labor Government’s high profile ICT failures formed a key part of the Queensland Liberal-National Party campaign arsenal and the party wasted little time in launching a comprehensive audit of the State Government’s ICT functions and assets upon forming Government. The findings of the audit, which are yet to be made public, will shape Queensland’s ICT direction for at least the term of this Government …”

To your writer’s mind, the biggest story in Australian government IT circles continues to be the growing body of evidence that our state governments have fundamental problems in basic IT service and project delivery. There is a very large body of analysis at this point (consisting of dozens of damning audit and ombudsman’s reports) that shows that our states simply cannot reliably deliver IT services themselves and cannot deliver on IT projects of any size. Plus their IT infrastructure is horribly insecure and billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money is being wasted, with little to show for it.

Some of the state governments (notably Queensland, NSW and Victoria) have started to address the issue, but this is going to be a biggie for at least the next decade. We’re just getting started, and I’m sure there will be a lot of news on this front in 2013. Personally, I believe much of what has been reported so far is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what’s really going on beneath the surface.


  1. The Victorian government published an economic statement just prior to Christmas which sheds a little light on the future direction for ICT, here is the link:


    While somewhat hidden in the text, the statement presages a major change in the focus of in-house ICT delivery/shared services vs. sourcing ICT services from the private sector … and explicitly refers to CenITex as being one of the first agencies to be tested against a contestable service provision approach.

    Stay tuned for more insights when the Victorian ICT Strategy is published … which must be coming up soon.

    In the meantime … here are the relevant paragraphs quoted from the economic statement:

    (1) On page 47:

    “The Government’s vision for public sector reform involves controlling costs, reducing internal red tape and improving management within the public sector. It also involves delivering services efficiently and in new and innovative ways that prioritise the community’s needs.

    The Government will scrutinise the efficiency of all government agencies, focusing initially on those providing mandated services to business or regulating the private sector for a fee or charge. The quantitative reasonableness of fees and charges will be examined against enhanced cost recovery principles, aiming to drive down charges through efficiencies. The Government will also examine whether and which (if any) internal services can be more efficiently provided by the private sector or made more contestable. Initial candidates will be CenITex and the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority (VMIA)”.

    (2) And on page 49:

    “Government will use market mechanisms to drive down unit price and increase information and communications technology (ICT) system and service innovation. Government will favour shorter contract terms and open standards to increase competition and guard against technology lock in or single vendors securing a disproportionate share of government business.

    At the infrastructure level, Government will progressively withdraw from direct ICT service delivery. The Government will determine the mix of insourced, managed and outsourced service delivery which is most cost effective, most responsive to business needs and which best leverages the expertise and opportunities available in the market.

    Projects with significant ICT requirements will be designed, delivered and measured based on clearly articulated business benefits with accountability clearly defined and allocated at appropriate management levels. Large projects will be broken into smaller, more manageable stages to improve delivery timelines and reduce the risk of project failure.”

  2. Our Government in QLD is a pretty big basket case. I dont expect this fixed for at least the next two terms of Government here.

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