CeBIT 2011: IT consolidation across govt not possible

The process would be too complex with the many differences in IT infrastructure

A consolidation of the Federal Government’s IT infrastructure is not a possibility, due to the vast difference in systems, according to the Department of Human Services (DHS) ICT assistant secretary, John Wadeson.

Addressing attendees at the annual CeBIT Conference in Sydney, Wadeson said that while the DHS is full steam ahead with the consolidation of Centrelink, Medicare and the Child Support Agency, helped along by the $576 million allocated in the recent Federal Budget, the same approach would not work across the entire government.

“If you look at the agencies that have come together in this group there’s a common characteristic, they all have a mainframe with a big amount of customer data on it... We moved the Department of Veterans Affairs [DVA] into this environment just two weekends ago because again it has the same infrastructure,” Wadeson said.

The DEV reportedly signed a $20 million deal with the DHS last year to shift its technical services to the large department’s infrastructure, under which it also adopted 40 to 50 DVA staff.

See photos and all the action from the event.

According to Wadeson, the IT infrastructure of departments such as Defence and Foreign Affairs present too much complexity due to the difference in characteristics.

“I think the efficiencies around linking up organisations with similar infrastructure is pretty clear to see and I think it gets less clear when you look at Foreign Affairs, which runs a whole heap of overseas cables and networks,” he said.

“These department have different sorts of skill sets that no one wants to go near like Defence with all the security regimes.”

Despite this, Wadeson is optimistic about the potential opportunity to consolidate IT infrastructure across state governments at some stage in the future.

Following the $4 million Queensland Health payroll bungle last year after its new payroll system wasn’t tested properly, CIOs have been warned of the risks of implementing shared services for diverse requirements.

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