Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Gershon report into Oz Gov IT: Good, but some holes

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-10-16

I’ve been going through the Gershon report into the federal government’s use of ICT.  It’s not too bad, and is more comprehensive and honest than I’d hoped, apart from some glaring holes.

I’ll give mere mention to the great discussion of the lack of a environmentally responsible approach, the lack of a proper datacentre strategy, the overuse of contractors rather than public servants, and the recommendations to expand the role of AGIMO, where I’m going "hear! hear!" to Gershon’s views and recommendations, having only minor quibbles apart from the shocking absence of ValIT and ISO/IEC 20000(see the "Notes" section below), as well as no mention of the value open source in the body of the text apart from noting what Brazil and the US DoD are doing (see 2.12.7).

What is truly telling about the shocking state of things is the lack of governance outlined in chapter 1.  Let’s hope Lindsay Tanner, the responsible minister, who is doing lots of good (but unheralded) work, uses this as justification for banging the table and heads together.

So, I’ll give a few gory quantitative details that show the extent of the problem, which I’ll blame half on wilful ignorance by CEOs and enterprise architects, and half on resistance to acknowledging their past and existing sins so things might improve.  The figures come as no surprise to me – I fought the good fight against this when a public servant in EA (Technical policy and standards guru), got stomped on, got the scars and burns, and still haven’t recovered 5 years down the track.

  • Gershon surveyed 41 agencies that fell under the "FMA Act", a.k.a. Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (Cth) and related regulations.  Of these…
  • Only 7 (17%) used Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie-Mellon Capability Maturity Model Integration toolset (see also wikipedia entry), the standard way of measuring how well you are managing what you do.  These have not been formal assessments, merely informal ones, but at least that’s a start.  A maturity model is basically something that lets you assess how much you have you’re sh*t together, for real, rather than suits in back-slapping, ar*e-covering mode.
  • Only one other agency (2%) has plans to use SEI CMMI.
  • Only 11 (27%) use COBIT (see also the wikipedia entry which I did a little work on a few years back) which allows benchmarking of maturity levels of major information management processes at a level even suits can understand.  (It is disappointing that the associated tool to help get value, Val IT was not referenced in Gershon’s glossary, nor discussion, no recommendations.  Again refer to the notes below for more details.)

Gershon’s report is a must read if you fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • An Oz IT professional.
  • A senior public service manager
  • A parliamentarian or one of their "Hollowmen" (including the good hollowmen working for Tanner I’ve met).

The report is worth a quick scan if you are:

  • A citizen worried about wastage and lack of service from the government.
  • A public servant who is annoyed at the way your IT (doesn’t) work.

See Also/Notes


5 Responses to “Gershon report into Oz Gov IT: Good, but some holes”

  1. […] mirrors the recommendations of the Gershon Report which pointed out the huge inefficiencies in government IT services because we are paying bucket […]

  2. […] Top Posts What’s wrong with MBAs? A lot!3 versions of Medieval Help DeskProzac/SSRIs during pregnancy risks your child getting depression, bipolar et alPLoS CatsCarbon dioxide, blood pH and no time to evolveGeorgiou should stand for Senate next timeGDP : Missing “home” production and “smarts”Free Nature Immunity PosterAboutThe first literature, the must-read: GilgameshWho is Vocus?Gershon report into Oz Gov IT: Good, but some holes […]

  3. […] Tanner in promising to implement in full the recommendations of the Gershon report which was scathing about Australian government IT (both in cost and capability terms) inherited from the Howard […]

  4. […] and video-conferencing rather than travel can help.  Obviously (and correctly) a fan of the Gershon Report and Tanner’s full acceptance of it.  Also points to the IPCC saying that between a 25% […]

  5. […] using links from "Gershon Report to be implemented in full" (2008-11-28) and "Gershon Report into Oz Gov IT: Good but some holes" […]

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