The Federal Government expects to continue needing its more than 13,000 public sector ICT workers in the near term, despite efforts to consolidate and improve efficiency during the past five years.
Canberra agencies have been working to deliver on the recommendations of the 2008 Gershon review, expected to slash business-as-usual, data centre and procurement costs.
Last week, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the Labor Government had saved $2 billion on ICT since 2007, contributing to a total of $13 billion in public sector savings.
Of those ICT savings, about $1.8 billion was attributed to the Government’s requirement that agencies cut 15 percent from their annual business-as-usual ICT spend.
The remaining $200 million was attributed to a series of smaller-scale projects, according to the Government's June 2012 ICT efficiency report.
The Government also expected to avoid a further $1 billion in data centre costs by 2025.
A spokesperson for the Department of Finance and Deregulation told iTnews last week that the Government had avoided $24 million in data centre costs to date through its data centre panel arrangements.
“The Australian Government is continuing to pursue efficiencies by applying ICT through new policy initiatives,” the spokesperson said, highlighting a Department of Human Services program to consolidate and integrate ICT systems from Medicare, the Child Support Agency, Centrelink and CRS Australia.
“The ICT Strategy 2012-2015 has a focus on improved Government productivity contributing to national productivity, delivering better services for people, the community and businesses, and improving the efficiency of APS operations.
“The need for ICT skills to support agencies and their delivery of services is not expected to decline in the short term.”
Coalition questions savings
A spokesman for Shadow Finance Minister Andrew Robb questioned Labor’s savings claims, adding that any internal ICT gains would be “dwarfed by the inevitable waste we will see with the NBN roll out and the new layers of bureaucracy associated with it”.
“From Opposition it is very difficult to glean precise information about the status of existing ICT contracts and processes,” he told iTnews today.
“This is why the commission of audit a Coalition government would conduct is so vitally important,” the spokesman said, referring to the party’s promise to audit all government spending if elected this September.
“This will be a root and branch review of all government expenditure to assess both the quality of spending and to identify those areas where efficiencies and improvements can be achieved without compromising service delivery.”
Robb’s spokesperson said the Coalition expected there were further efficiencies to be gained in ICT, where there could be “a lot of unnecessary replication across platforms”.
“New opportunities in cloud computing and platform sharing were just two examples of how government ICT could be made more efficient into the future,” he said.