The federal Department of Finance will take over a number of the functions currently carried out by the education and employment portfolio’s shared services centre as it moves towards a whole-of-government approach to back-office demands.
The structural change is latest sign the Finance department is continuing to pursue a vision of a centrally-led shared services scheme, despite a period of silence on the issue.
The shared services option first reared its head in March 2014 as an alternative to a new Finance-led ERP systems buying regime.
Finance has been consulting with industry members since the end of 2015 about what they think of a coordinated shared services program - of the kind that has been dumped in the states - including weighing up offshoring options and the right mix of insourcing and outsourcing.
Tender documents reveal that eight federal agencies have already put up their hands to become corporate services suppliers to their fellow government entities, specifically the Department of Defence, the Department of Education and Employment, Treasury, the Department of Industry, and a joint consortium of smaller agencies.
The already established education and employment delivery centre - plus its existing cohort of public service customers - appears to be the first step in building the foundations of this coordinated service machine.
A Finance spokesperson said “some” of the services currently delivered by the shared service centre would be merged into the central agency.
“This will better align with the whole-of-government approach to shared and common services across the Australian public service,” she said.
“The shared and common services program, led by the Finance portfolio, is transforming corporate services across the APS by consolidating certain corporate functions and allowing agencies to better focus on their core business."
The federal government spends between $3.5 billion and $4 billion on the IT, legal, HR and finance services that would likely be bundled into a shared services scheme.
The education and employment shared services centre was born out of a machinery of government change that split the formerly combined department, with the corporate services engine kept intact. It currently delivers services to 10 different bodies.
The Canberra Times has reported that shared services centre staff remain in the dark about their future in a Finance-owned shared services body.