How should government spend on ICT?

I’ve been following the work that has been going on in Australia on ICT in government for a few months now.

The Australian Government asked Sir Peter Gershon, UK Treasury’s former Chief Executive to conduct an independent review of the Australian Government’s management of information and communication technology (ICT). They have decided now to implement the recommendations in full.

It is amazing that the review has been so comprehensive and been delivered in such a tight timeframe.

You can read more by clicking on the following link

You can read the full report and terms of reference at the following site

There were several key findings of the review and all are of interest to me, particularly the Governance area:


After detailed analysis of the evidence, the review identified the following key findings.

  1. There is weak governance of pan-government issues related to ICT.
  2. Agency governance mechanisms are weak in respect of their focus on ICT efficiency and an understanding of organisational capability to commission, manage and realise benefits from ICT-enabled projects.
  3. The business as usual (BAU) ICT funding in agencies is not subject to sufficient challenge and scrutiny.
  4. There is a disconnect between the stated importance of ICT and actions in relation to ICT skills.
  5. There is no whole-of-government strategic plan for data centres. In the absence of such a plan, the Government will be forced into a series of ad hoc investments which will, in total, cost in the order of $1 billion more than a coordinated approach over a 15-year period.
  6. The government ICT marketplace is neither efficient nor effective.
  7. There is a significant disconnect between the Government’s overall sustainability agenda and its ability to understand and manage energy costs and the carbon footprint of its ICT estate. 

From: Sir Peter Gershon CBE FREng. (2008, August) Review of the australian government’s use of information and communication technology. Commonwealth of Australia 2008:

The interesting thing would be how many of these apply to other countries?  Findings 1, 2 and 4 are potentially universal.

It is time that we paid more attention to findings 2 and 4 not just in government but in the non government sector as well. 

In times of global recession it is those organisations who have good governance practices in place (IT being a major enabler and expense item in most organisations), and good HR practices in terms of recruiting, developing and retaining IT skills will have major advantages over those who don’t.

And yes – this does include Government Agencies.