Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gershon review submitted to federal government

On Friday (29 August) Peter Gershon submitted his review on the status of the $16 billion Australian Government technology budget to the Federal Government for consideration, as reported in a number of places, including this Australian article, Gershon submits govt ICT review.

The Australian article reports that,

Sir Peter said his recommendations involve a major program of both administrative reform and cultural change within the Australian Public Service.

"With sustained leadership and drive at Ministerial and top official levels, and by providing the enablers of change with the necessary resources, not only in funding terms, but also skills of the right calibre, the Australian Government through implementing these recommendations can drive significant improvements in its use of ICT.

"I am confident that the recommended actions and proposed changes can be successfully implemented over the next two to three years, and will deliver substantial benefits to the Australian Government," Sir Peter said.
I'm eagerly awaiting a look at the recommendations of this review, with my particular interest being in ensuring that the online channel continues to be a lower-cost delivery medium for government information and services, used flexibly to ensure citizens receive the most effective, as well as the most efficient, outcomes.

As a relative newcomer to the public sector one of my largest challenges has been dealing with how ICT is managed in government in terms of culture, structure and accountability. It is very different to my personal experience working with and managing IT teams in private enterprise.

There are specific laws and standards which are mandatory for government, but do not hold as much force in the private sector - such as around accessibility and security. There are also different drivers when the profit motive is removed.

The largest difference I've noticed has been in the level of application of technology for governance structures that in the private sector are more commonly managed through contracts and professional relationships, making them more adaptable, lower cost and placing business systems under business control.

Judging from the positive outcomes in the UK after Sir Gershon's 2004 Independent Review of Public Sector Efficiency report, I hope that in Australia we move forward with his requirements in order to unlock more of the potential of ICT to be a forward-looking and innovative facilitator in the Australian government's relationships with citizens.

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