Most large federal government agencies this week said they had no plans to follow the Department of Immigration and Citizenship's lead in hiring a swathe of new permanent IT staff to replace contractors to meet Sir Peter Gershon's recommendations.
Sir Peter Gershon and Lindsay Tanner (Credit: Brian Hartigan)
The Gershon report, which has been endorsed as an action plan by Federal Cabinet, found that agencies needed to reduce their reliance on IT contractors, replacing any vacuum with in-house staff. Yesterday this prompted DIAC to reveal plans to replace as many as 60 IT contractors with permanent staff.
However, most federal departments quizzed by ZDNet.com.au said they didn't intend to follow suit, at least not immediately.
The Department of the Treasury felt that the Gershon report's stipulation didn't apply to it.
"Under the Gershon review, agencies who have contractor numbers which exceed 10 per cent of total ICT staff are required to reduce contractors by 50 per cent," a spokesperson for the Treasury said. "As we do not exceed this level, (I believe we are at about 4 per cent) there will be no impact for the Treasury."
The Department of Human Services, including Medicare and Centrelink, did not intend to conduct a recruitment drive, only employing staff on an as-needs basis. Centrelink issued a separate response which expressed similar sentiments, but added that its normal recruitment would continue to focus on graduates. The graduate program for jobs beginning in August 2009 and January 2010 will be held from 23 February to 19 April.
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry said that it was currently reviewing the government's response to the Gershon review and had no immediate plans to reduce its reliance on contractors.
There will be no impact for the Treasury
The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government said that "normal contractor staff churn" would contribute to the target being achieved, but did not say what else it needed to do.
The Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts said it was currently tendering for IT services and support from IT providers, with no short-term plans to recruit permanent IT staff.
The Australian Taxation Office had no comment, as it was still considering the report. The Australian Customs Service declined to comment. Senator Stephen Conroy's Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy said it had only a small reliance on contract staff and did not expect to make any substantial changes to its current ICT recruitment strategy in the near future.
The Department of Climate Change said it was hiring IT staff, but not as a result of shedding contractors in response to the Gershon report. "Being a new department, DCC is still building the necessary capabilities in order for it to fulfil the government's climate change agenda and has been actively recruiting over the last few months," a spokesperson said.
The two exceptions were the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). DVA said it was working with the Australian Government Information Management Office teams on reviewing the make-up of the department's workforce.
DVA anticipates that some ICT positions may be advertised later this year
Department of Veterans' Affairs spokesperson
"An effective IT graduate program coupled with the AGIMO apprenticeship IT program has ensured revitalisation of DVA's IT workforce. DVA anticipates that some ICT positions may be advertised later this year," the department said.
DEEWR said it had established an IT working group to address findings from the Gershon report, with one of its main focus areas being the contractor cull, as well as the need to further reduce IT expenditure.
"DEEWR is currently taking measured steps in developing IT workforce plans and contractor reduction strategies," a spokesperson wrote in an email. "This is being undertaken with a focus on maintaining the balance of delivering many government initiatives and continued service delivery, whilst implementing measures that may trigger significant staff churn and attrition."
The department said at this stage it was too early to commit to final staff numbers and strategies; however, completion of analysis work would put it into a position to determine what contract roles could be converted to permanent headcount. "The approach adopted by DIAC is but one of the many strategies under active consideration in DEEWR," they said.
A spokesperson for AGIMO said the onus for meeting the requirements of the report fell on the departments themselves, and that each department would take their own steps to fulfil the suggestions in the three-year time frame.