Government IT service shapes up for transfer

Functions expected to be fully transferred from the SSC to the DIA on June 30

Government CIO Laurence Millar says development of the Government Technology Service (GTS) is proceeding satisfactorily, with functions expected to be fully transferred from the State Services Commission (SSC) to the Department of Internal Affairs on June 30.

The GTS is being developed as a separate agency from the Government CIO, which remains within the SSC.

Millar says the status quo, with agencies buying their own services, remains in place and the GTS does not signal a move to centralised purchasing of services. However, he says he doesn’t know whether that will change.

“A decision depends on the appetite for looking at whole-of-government. That should emerge in the next three to six months.”

Any such decision would be made at ministerial level, he says.

Currently, there are three umbrella government contracts: with Microsoft, Vodafone and Google.

Millar says that since the change of government and under the new financial circumstances, “we’re seeing a series of people coming to terms with how we do things in the new environment. Clarity will emerge gradually”.

There has been some speculation in the market that the government could adopt all or part of the Gershon report into Australian government IT use and governance, completed last year by Sir Peter Gershon.

A spokesperson for communications minister Stephen Joyce says the minister has seen the report and noted its recommendations. The spokesperson says officials have also read the report and will be utilising it as part of normal reporting to ministers.

Millar says he is using the report as a useful indicator about how Australia is looking at getting better returns from IT.

“But a lot of service delivery takes place at State level there, which affects the conclusions. It wouldn’t be helpful to pick up wholesale what is done in Canberra.

“Having said that, there are a lot of areas of focus that are of potential for New Zealand.

“We have other channels also — Singapore, the State of Victoria in particular and, to some extent, the UK.

“Discussions are taking place in the context of how we are going to close the financial gaps that Treasury has identified.

“I don’t know whether there will be a broader review.”

He says the government is still focused on its line items and that any future decisions will be driven at ministerial level, based on subsequent information.

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