It is important that departments make life easier for customers by using new technologies, but Australians want government to retain the skills and capability to deliver services directly.
This government has cut over 14,000 APS jobs and increased the use of consultants, contractors and labour hire which is causing serious damage to the APS. Essential skills are being lost, and the capacity of the APS is being hollowed out, while valuable funding, is being wasted on expensive contracting.
There are countless international and domestic examples that public private partnerships do not provide world class services. the ongoing problems with the ATO’s information and communication technology is just one of many domestic and international examples. In December 2016 and in February 2017, the ATO’s Storage Area Networks (SAN) failed; resulting in a systems outage, causing the majority of the ATO’s online services to become unavailable, with significant disruption to clients and adverse impacts for ATO staff. Hewlett Packard Enterprises owned and operated the ATO computing infrastructure, in practise this meant that ATO staff had no direct access to the SAN technology operated by HPE.
Countless reports for more than a decade have shown the cost per ICT contracting is exponentially higher than direct APS employment. The CPSU calculates that with approximately 4,700 ICT contractors engaged, it is costing in the order of $385m more per annum than if those contractors were engaged as APS employees.
This decline in internal capacity and increased expenditure on external capacity has occurred over the same time that the ICT failures in government services have increased. If the government wants to provide a greater customer experience then they need to lift the ASL cap, so staff can deliver services that Australians desperately rely on.
Quotes attributable to Melissa Donnelly, CPSU National Secretary
“It is critical the government removes the ASL cap to ensure human oversight of APS programs. The community deserves to be confident that any issues raised with citizens are legitimate and accurate. Robodebt as confirmed that our members are best placed to do this.”
“We fundamentally reject Stuart Robert’s assertion that customers are having a bad experience because staff don’t have the right widget or software. If Robodebt shows anything it is that when you push to automate, slash staff and cut face to face services, the project will fail and undermine public trust.”
“When you pull back the Minister’s jargon, what we are looking at is a Minister that wants to continue a reign of privatisation and jobs for mates.” “If the Morrison Government was serious about providing a world class customer experience, they would stop chasing short lived budget wins, and invest in the staff and ICT systems.”