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Digital Transformation Agency - Major IT Investments Review

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This article was written by Stephen Mason and Rebecca Petterson.

On Friday 17 February 2017 the Assistant Minister for Digital Transformation, Angus Taylor, announced the establishment of a new investment management office within the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) to "provide a comprehensive picture of ICT and digital technology investments". The Minister said

Government will be able to see the costs, benefits, risks and status of these initiatives.

The new office will review all significant Commonwealth technology projects (i.e. active projects over $10m or that "engage a large number of Australians" – understood to cover projects that provide services affecting a significant number of Australians). It will include all non-corporate Commonwealth entities and reports suggest that corporate entities (such as nbn and Australian Post) will not be covered.

The Assistant Minister said

This is more than a review, it's ongoing oversight, and it will provide unprecedented visibility and centralised management of IT projects.

The Commonwealth currently spends over $6.2 billion annually on ICT.

The review will look for inefficiencies, mismanagement and duplication, opportunities through scale, and where skills support is most needed. One key role of the DTA is to target technology assistance to Government departments and agencies, and to remediate projects.

The Assistant Minister is reported as saying that the Government is aiming for a 10 percentage-point increase in the portion of government work that goes to smaller providers, which would equate to a $500 million boost.

What does this mean for you?

How the review of active projects will operate in practice is currently unclear. The review is expected to report to Government by mid-2017, but media reports have estimated up to 100 projects will be involved. The review may set benchmarks and standards for new ICT procurements, or it may go further and recommend changes in approach to current procurements where that would not be too disruptive.

The review offers the opportunity to collect the "lessons learned" from ICT procurements and share them more widely.

In the first instance, we expect the review will engage with Commonwealth entities to understand in detail the current projects, risk identification and assessment processes used, risk allocations, contracting and pricing models used, key contract terms and contract management arrangements, as well as the outcomes achieved so far.

We expect Commonwealth entities will need to be able to provide that summary information quickly and efficiently, and be in a position to explain the rationale behind the procurement, contracting and management approaches they have taken as well as the reasons for any failure to meet the contract schedule and how that has been managed. It appears that they will also need to plan their future procurement activities with scope to involve DTA at key points on the procurement schedule.

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