David Thodey is clearly not content with doing the biggest review of the federal public service since Nugget Coombes.
The CSIRO chairman has accepted a controversial offer from NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet to try and whisper or bludgeon Canberra and the other states into streamlining the Australian Federation’s notorious inefficient money-go-round.
Thodey will lead Federal-Financial Relations Review with a view to a report back to Macquarie Street by the end of the year, Perrottet said on Tuesday.
“In our three-tier federal system financial relations are a real mess,” he said.
So too are underlying standards, platforms, data and ways of measuring money, the way it flows and the effects it has as the cost of administration slowly but inevitably depletes the effect of cash before it lands.
Half off the great reform push is systemic and fiscal; but the other half, and there’s a reason why a hardcore tech nerd like Thodey has been appointed, will be about eye-wateringly micro-reforms like common Treasury software architecture, it could be speculated.
They say luck is the confluence of opportunity and circumstance, and Perrottet clearly smells both in a tech-led services and administration model he hopes to sell into Canberra and re-elected Morrison government.
The early signs are initially and conspicuously positive with Morrison already borrowing the (Customer) Service NSW idea and calling it Services Australia.
Perrottet just loves recycling an asset and clearly thinks there are more bubble-bursters he can sell to Canberra.
“I believe in a bottom-up Federation,” Perrottet told iTnews at the budget lock-up.
At a both a dollar and systems level that means giving Canberra a helping hand, rather than a belting, if there's realistic prospect of success.
Perrottet and Premier Gladys Berejklian are of course no strangers to borrowing or buying tech-led transformations, with Transport for NSW the jewel in the infrastructure crown. That model was of course literally transplanted from Transport for London replete with Opal vendor Cubic.
On Tuesday Perrottet announced Opal fares would be capped a $50 per week while waxing lyrical about how the massive $100 billion infrastructure spend is propping-up jobs despite a big hit on property and real estate.
He also complained billions of dollars had been “ripped out of the GST without any forewarning.”
What he didn’t mention was that two years ago NSW Treasury replaced its ageing budgeting and financials system that helped, along with reforms to other agencies, central agencies achieve massively better transparency of spending and outcomes.
It was also done at a cost that would make any self-respecting Oracle sales rep weep.
This will be the secret sauce that NSW is offering to export to Canberra with Thodey.
And, having just done an Australian Public Service autopsy and roadmap with fellow agile junkie Maile Carnegie, Thodey will be well acquainted at where to apply pressure.
Because when money goes digital, digital is where the money is at. Just don’t call it innovation.