Coming election revives debate on federal IT outsourcing

A change of government at federal level might not necessarily mean more IT outsourcing by government agencies, according to the country's top chief information officer.

A change of government at federal level might not necessarily mean more IT outsourcing by government agencies, according to the country's top chief information officer.

Glenn Archer, CIO of the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) said while recent reports had suggested a Coalition government might outsource more of the government's $6 billion a year IT needs, he is "entirely ignorant of any such pact". The Coalition has made no policy announcements on the topic to date.

Already between 19 and 22 per cent of federal IT spending goes to three outsourcers in Australia. Unless the government of the day made specific changes that forced agencies to outsource more, it would depend on individual agency needs and CIO decisions, he said.

Yet, there is a precedent of forced outsourcing in a tumultuous IT era that began in 1997 and that many Canberra technology leaders still resent. Then, the Howard government announced a Whole-of-Government Information Technology Infrastructure Consolidation and Outsourcing Initiative headed by a new agency, the Office of Asset Sales and Information Technology Outsourcing (OASITO).

The original outsourcing plan was to be completed by 1999, but only four of the 11 major planned tenders were completed by that date. A scathing report by the Auditor-General in 2000 was quickly followed by the Humphry review and a Senate inquiry, all similarly critical.

Former ASX head Richard Humphry said at the time that while the initiative had established IT outsourcing in Australia, its continuation should be re-examined as it was not proving effective.

The approach was eventually dropped and OASITO closed.

"I would look at the Humphry report and ask what has changed since 2000," Mr Archer told IT Pro.

Read the full story at smh.com.au/it-pro