Abetz shifted in reshuffle

Prime Minister John Howard's ministerial reshuffle will deny the outgoing Special Minister of State, Senator Eric Abetz, the opportunity to launch a far-reaching e-government strategy developed over the past several months. Abetz' replacement, Gary Nairn, is now expected to launch the strategy, which has been lodged with the Cabinet office for approval.

Prime Minister John Howard's ministerial reshuffle will deny the outgoing Special Minister of State, Senator Eric Abetz, the opportunity to launch a far-reaching e-government strategy developed over the past several months.

Abetz' replacement, Gary Nairn, is now expected to launch the strategy, which has been lodged with the Cabinet office for approval. Nairn was formerly Howard's parliamentary secretary.

The strategy updates a previous document coordinated in 2002 by the now-defunct National Office of the Information Economy and overseen by then Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Senator Richard Alston.

It is expected to encompass existing and new initiatives to improve government service delivery to citizens and improvements to government operations.

Abetz -- who is shifting to fisheries, forestry and conservation -- is understood to be pleased that he had the opportunity to develop the strategy as well as implement initiatives to improve areas such as technology procurement.

Projects launched on his watch include a new technology contracting framework (which includes the capping of supplier liability), a draft framework for implementation of smart-cards by agencies, a review of the government's Gatekeeper Public Key Infrastructure which authenticates external clients such as businesses and a Linux and open source procurement guide for agencies.

The reshuffle has also seen the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, retain her position. She has, however, been elevated to the Howard leadership team post of deputy leader of the Senate.

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