An independent review into the progress of the Gershon Report on the Federal Government’s use of ICT, has found the “substantial” implementation has positioned the Government for the next phase in the evolution of ICT policy and practice.
The report, prepared by Dr Ian Reinecke, examined the effectiveness of Gershon’s recommended reforms and makes a number of recommendations in order to facilitate the transition to the “post-Gershon era”.
It also investigates and makes recommendations on the future role of the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) in the ICT Reform Program, initiated by Gershon.
“There has been very substantial effort invested across Government in putting the recommendations of the Gershon Report into practice,” the report reads. “The result is a much better information base and greater guidance for agencies through the development and adoption of whole-of-Government ICT policies.”
According to the report, the shift in focus from tactical to strategic investment in ICT, which now allows the Government to look at the opportunities for creative and innovative use of technology, justifies the “intensive” level of activity ignited by the Gershon Report.
The review found that while significant progress has been made in the two years since the report was completed, there are still a number of areas in need of improvement, claiming the governance structure proposed by Gershon is not producing its intended business focus, and the vision and supporting strategies needed to continue to drive whole-of-government initiatives and ICT public sector reform.
“In August 2008 in his transmittal letter to the Minister of Finance and Deregulation Sir Peter Gershon anticipated 'two critical requirements which will determine the success of this reform program',” the report reads. “They were the need for sustained leadership by Ministers and top Government officials and the need to ensure that 'enablers of change' were properly resourced with appropriate levels of funding and skills.”
The report recommends two areas in which to strengthen the reform program, including proposals designed to re-focus the approach to ICT reform, by sustaining implementation of the Gershon “building blocks”, and a modified governance structure to strengthen the capacity to develop an ICT vision and supporting strategies.
It also highlights a number of issues that have been emerging since 2008 including, the development of the National Broadband Network (NBN) and the opportunity for the government to deliver services and to conduct its business using a broadband platform, the global financial crisis and its demands for continued budgetary constraint. Additionally, the increase in the use of social media and its how it is transforming the nature of communications between society and government, and the publication this year, of a Blueprint for Public Sector Reform, detailing priorities that require ICT to play a central enabling role.
“Without the aggressive change program that the Gershon Report laid out, the Government would not know what it now does about how to extract better value from its use of technology.”