Defence renews $1.9bn ICT savings pledge

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Defence renews $1.9bn ICT savings pledge
Greg Farr, Defence CIO

Seeks another $550m to fund reform works.

Defence chief information officer Greg Farr has moved to reassure the Federal Government that additional funds required for its ICT remediation program will not eat into the projected $1.9 billion in savings from the works.

Appearing before a Senate Estimates Committee (pdf) this week, Farr said that an additional $550 million over four years will be required for the ICT remediation program.

He attributed the increase to the Defence CIO Group's "imperfect view" of the department's "organically-grown" IT environment.

“It’s a significantly larger task to do the remediation than we initially thought," he said.

Defence announced the ICT reform and remediation program in May 2009. The initial funding was pegged at $940 million over four years.

It was expected to deliver a "more secure and robust ICT capability" for the department while contributing to $1.9 billion in savings over the next decade.

Asked whether he should deduct the $550 million from the $1.9 billion savings projection, Farr said he didn’t think so.

Farr still believed those savings would be achieved, despite the additional funding request.

Of the need for more funds, Farr said it had been "very difficult" to ascertain a central view of IT and what was required for the remediation project.

He now had a much better understanding of the size of the Defence information environment, the amount of equipment and its age, and the extent of remediation works required.

The Australian National Audit Office has previously reported concerns about the level of oversight that Defence's CIO Group has over ICT projects in the wider Defence organisation.

The CIO Group lacked supervision over some $300 million - or 25 percent - of the department's ICT activities in 2011.

Farr said that since the audit, he had a fuller understanding of the ICT spend across Defence.

“We are actually finding a number of areas where we have significantly under-invested,” he said.

Major IT initiatives

A number of very large ICT programs are coming to fruition in the 2012-2013 financial year.

They include the terrestrial communication bundles which will consolidate all Defence networks. This is proving to be a closely-fought contest between Telstra and Optus.

Farr also anticipated approval for the Defence data centre rationalisation and consolidation, and replacement of the Defence personnel system, PMkeyS.

Budget papers required Farr's groop to meet performance indicators such as consolidating Defence networks, infrastructure, service orientated architecture, applications and information management into a Single Information Environment.

The CIO Group also needs to roll out an ICT shared services initiative to reduce costs and increase productivity across Defence.

ICT services and service support will need to be delivered in accordance with the Defence ICT Services Delivery Charter and the Defence ICT Services Catalogue.

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