The days of farming out IT work to independent contractors may be coming to an end as far as the Australian government is concerned. Katy Gallagher, the country’s new Minister of the Australian Public Service (APS), remarked in her inaugural statement that the government needed to stop farming out its most interesting and challenging IT initiatives and that the capabilities of the APS needed to be bolstered after years of apparent neglect.
Gallagher remarked that the APS has suffered from a decade of deliberate devaluation characterized by the outsourcing of vital government IT work to outside agencies, poor resourcing, and severely outdated tech systems. This, in turn, has earned the ire of the public, who feel that government IT initiatives have not effectively delivered proper service to the people.
An Upcoming Audit
Gallagher also expressed her disappointment that the Australian government does not centrally hold any data regarding the full extent of how contractual IT work is throughout its different offices and agencies.
In this case, the Minister commissioned a formal audit to show how extensive outsourcing has been within the APS. One key factor it seeks to look into is how contractual employment and consultancies have been used within the organization.
The audit will be led by representatives from the Ministry of Finance and the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC). Its results are pegged for release within the first quarter of 2023.
A Reduction on Private Sector Reliance
No matter what the output of the audit may be, the Australian government is set to significantly reduce its reliance on private sector consultants and give more comprehensive initiatives to APS employees.
In doing so, the government will be able to give civil servants an opportunity to improve their expertise in developing IT systems for the public sector, challenging their abilities in numerous ways. The initiative also hopes to build relationships through collaborative work with colleagues within their respective organizations or those in other government offices.
Gallagher’s proposed workflow model shares a few similarities with the APS’ current mobility framework, which enables its employees to devote time, skill, and resources to projects initiated by other agencies or located in areas outside their own workplaces.
The Minister expressed hope that at least part of the proposed in-house consulting model will be ready for scrutiny towards the end of this year.