The federal Department of Finance has opted to introduce a whole-of-government panel to support the difficult task of reducing the more than 200 ERP systems in use across the Australian public sector.
The department has been considering its options for a coordinated procurement arrangement for ERP systems since just after the Coalition was elected to government in 2013, as part of a fresh push to establish a whole-of-government approach to shared services.
At that time it was estimated that $730 million had been spent on ERP systems by agencies between the 2008-09 and 2012-13 financial years.
A whole-of-government panel was just one of several options on the table to overcome the isolated ERP investment decisions of agencies and improve purchasing power. An opt-in shared services arrangement based on a single ERP system, and a mandatory shared services arrangement that gave agencies the option to opt-out were also considered.
But after consulting with industry on the proposal, the federal government opted to introduce a broader shared services model that has seen six shared services hubs established across the public service.
This will see 60 agencies consolidate their "core transactional corporate services" - finance and HR - as well as back-office systems into one of the six hubs within the next four years.
The hubs are located in the Australian Taxation Office, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Department of Human Services, Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, Treasury, and Finance - two less than what had originally been envisaged for the scheme.
Fourteen agencies, including the hub hosters and many of the agencies previously supported by the Education portfolio’s shared services centre, have already transitioned to the Finance-led shared services scheme.
Finance now wants an ERP panel to support the hub's procurement services, and is planning to approach the market in the next quarter.
A spokesperson told iTnews the panel would be used to procure off-the-shelf ERP solutions, including support and maintenance, and would minimise the number of ERP systems in use across the APS.
Whether the panel will be mandatory for agencies will remain unknown until Finance completes the market process.
Responsibility for core transactional services is one of the few IT-related activities that Finance has managed to hang onto since a directive by the federal government in October saw IT functions transfer to the Digital Transformation Agency.
Finance ceded responsibility for all its other whole-of-government technology procurement arrangements earlier this year.