Gov told to "immediately" release digital capability review

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Gov told to "immediately" release digital capability review

Senate committee concerned by lack of progress after two years.

The federal government should “immediately finalise and publish” a comprehensive review of its IT and digital capability that was deemed urgent two years ago, a senate committee has found.

The finding is contained in the final report [pdf] from a Labor-led inquiry into the current capability of the Australian Public Service (APS) released on Thursday.

It is one of several recommendations aimed at boosting digital capability in the wide-ranging report, the latest in a long-line of parliamentary examinations urging APS reform.

The Digital Transformation Agency was tasked with producing an IT audit in response to David Thodey’s review of the APS in December 2019 as a precursor to a longer-term IT blueprint.

The audit, which the government described as urgent in its respond to the Thodey review, was to be used to understanding IT spending, as well as “capability, risks and needs”.

But as reported by iTnews, the audit – now referred to as a digital review, the scope of which has expanded to include workforce data – has stalled.

Deputy CEO Peter Alexander, who was acting CEO at the time, last month said the review was yet to gain approval from the Secretaries Digital Committee.

The committee said it was “extremely disappointed” by the lack of progress with the review, and that the government’s “inability to provide clarity on the status of the work was concerning”.

It recognised that while Covid-19 had “necessitated a shift in work priorities”, oversight and scrutiny was still needed as “expenditure is continuing apace”.

The committee said the lack of process with the review was also impacting the “ability of the government to look properly at ICT capability in the long-term”, referring to the ICT blueprint.

“As such, the committee urges the Secretaries Board in the strongest possible terms to swiftly finalise and release the digital review,” the report said.

“The committee also urges the government to be guided by the results of the ICT audit and develop a whole-of-government ICT blueprint as an immediate priority.”

The committee has also called on the government to make sure information on “current and forecast ICT expenditure and assets” and future requirements, including “urgent ICT capital investment needs”, are included in the review.

It also wants the review to list “systems scheduled for retirement or no longer supported by software vendors” and the risks those systems hold for the government.

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