AU$49 billion man recruited by Tanner's Razor Gang

Summary:Sir Peter Gershon, the procurement expert responsible for slashing £23 billion (AU$49 billion) from the UK government's budget through ICT efficiency reviews has been recruited by Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner for the Federal government's budget Razor Gang.

Sir Peter Gershon, the procurement expert responsible for slashing £23 billion (AU$49 billion) from the UK government's budget through ICT efficiency reviews has been recruited by Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner for the Federal government's budget Razor Gang.

Tanner has selected Gershon to head up a review of the Federal government's AU$6 billion annual technology budget, with the Minister calling on the expert to slash AU$16 billion overall from it's ICT spending.

Sir Peter Gershon

Credit: Office of the Minister for Finance and Deregulation

"Under the Howard government this spending was completely uncoordinated, leading to serious inefficiencies and cost blowouts," said Tanner in a statement.

Gershon, a former chief executive of the UK treasury, met with Tanner late last week to discuss plans for the review, returning home over the weekend ahead of a three month stint in Australia starting in June.

Although Gershon is not due back in Australia until that time, a spokesperson for the Minister told ZDNet.com.au today: "He will be starting work with the department as of now."

The spokesperson said that the government had sought an expert from within Australian ranks to take on the role before settling on Gershon, but could provide no further details at this stage.

"Sir Peter's track record at the most senior levels of both industry and government in the UK speaks for itself," said Tanner.

"His expertise as an industry leader, strategist and highly effective reviewer of public administration makes him a compelling candidate to review the way in which the Australian government manages its use of ICT," he said.

The announcement comes after Tanner told ABC Radio last week of his intention to reform the "ultra-decentralised" ICT model inherited from the Howard government, estimating that over AU$6 billion is being spent inefficiently each year.

"The two announcements are definitely related in terms of what we're looking at," said a spokesperson for the Minister.

According to the spokesperson, one of the government's priorities is to enable greater communication between government agencies with similar portfolios — such as the ATO and Centrelink — to share information.

"There are clear opportunities for efficiency gains in information and communication technology... the review will examine the way in which agencies manage ICT investments, including maintenance, intra-agency links, development and staffing," said Tanner.

Gershon's reputation was cemented in 2003, after then Prime Minister Tony Blair invited him to undertake a substantial review of efficiency across the English public sector to identify significant resources which could be reallocated in a 2004 Spending Review.

It is estimated that savings incurred as a result of the review have exceeded ₤23 billion (AU$49 billion) as of December 2007.

Gershon will be assisted by the Department of Finance and Deregulation throughout the review process, and is expected to report back to the Minister by September this year.

Topics: Government, EU, Government : AU, IT Priorities, Reviews, Tech Industry

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