Union backs inquiry into Govt IT, warns against scape-goating

The CPSU has welcomed calls for a Senate inquiry into Government IT, but warned it must seek real answers and not become an excuse for public service bashing or scapegoating.

CPSU Assistant National Secretary Michael Tull said: “An inquiry is essential. The Government spent around $10b on IT this year, up more than $3b on last year, yet APS staff are clients are still experiencing huge problems.”

“It is crucial that the inquiry is full and frank. Public sector staff are struggling to deliver good outcomes for the public in an environment dominated by outsourced IT planning and delivery. If anyone thinks that public sector IT problems can be fixed by blaming a few public sector workers and then giving even more contracts to the big ICT companies, they haven’t been paying attention.”

“Over recent years we’ve seen Government try to fix IT problems by throwing money at external vendors, always to no avail. With Census fail, ATO crashes and now the huge Child Support problems, it’s time to ask some fundamental questions about how Government manages IT.”

“The recent Head of the Government’s Digital Transformation Office, Paul Shetler, is on the record as saying that years of outsourcing has de-skilled the Commonwealth public sector and produced an over reliance on external contractors which is driving ‘eye-watering’ costs.”

The CPSU believes it is crucial that the Inquiry focus on the Government’s over-reliance on outsourcing and external vendors.

“The Department of Finance’s 2015-16 ICT Trends Report found that the labour cost of an external contractor was more the 60% higher than an internally hired public sector worker.  If we are smart we can save money while building skills and capacity and bringing more jobs back in-house.”

“Every day CPSU members experience the issues that come from a system dominated by external vendors, complex contracts and lack of leadership from the very top. We think this inquiry is a chance to get some big issues on the table. As long as the Inquiry Terms of Reference provide proper protections for witnesses, CPSU members will be able to speak openly and frankly.”

“The massive developments in digital technology have set new standards for digital services and engagement, and it should be the goal of Government to match that standard.”

“The community turns to the public service at the key points in their life for information and support. Those services should be the best on offer. Public services shouldn’t mean second best or cut rate services.”