The application nation

The application nation

Summary: It seems that applications take up a lot of the government's budget, year on year, which makes me wonder why more departments aren't following Queensland's Department of Education.


It seems that applications take up a lot of the government's budget, year on year, which makes me wonder why more departments aren't following Queensland's Department of Education.

The department has released a tender for a vendor to construct a plan to rationalise 35 Microsoft Access and .NET applications, calling in an external vendor to take a snapshot of what the department's got under its hood. I'm sure it's part of the Department of Human Services consolidation.

It wants to use the money it requires to keep the applications up and running in other areas. The more it can kill off, the more it can spend somewhere else. It sounds sensible — especially when you consider data released by the Federal Government last week (PDF), which said that in the year to 30 June 2010, the applications service tower cost 36 per cent of the over $5 billion federal government IT budget.

That's almost $2 billion spent each year.

In that year, 52 per cent of employees working on public service IT were working on that area. And if you look at the people who were hired outside of the public service to work on the government's IT, 70 per cent of them worked on that area. Given that the Gershon report wanted to cut contractors down, wouldn't it be a good idea to have a good look at all these applications these people are managing?

Do we need them all? I bet the users think they do. But what if they could be convinced to move to something else that would suit their needs just as well, but would also help someone else, cutting one variant out of the mix? Unfortunately, as almost every shared services implementation has shown us, sharing has never been humanity's best trait. And many IT projects fail because of poor change management.

Then you've got to add consumerisation into the mix. End users don't want just one application to do what they need, they want the one that they like! And they like to be able to download it themselves and preferably onto their own device as well as onto the desktop. So securing and managing those applications looks like a nightmare. More people please, not less!

Is there any way to cut down the application bloat, which doesn't involve an extremely costly program that results in user uproar? Or are we just doomed to having 10 different applications to meet everyone's possible need and hiring the requisite number of people to manage them?

Topics: Apps, Government, Government AU, IT Employment

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

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  • This article mentions '35 Microsoft Access and .NET applications' and the Queensland DET article mentions '35 .NET and Microsoft Application apps'?

    When you have up to 35 'Application apps', I think it's time to consolidate and rationlise! :)
  • Hi gjgoody,

    That would be a typo of mine. Thanks for pointing it out!
  • What I would like to know if out of that $2 billion spend, how much of it is MIcrosoft Licencing costs?
    • I'd say a reasonable amount of it would be. In the Queensland Department of Education's case, it said it was trying to make as much of its environment Microsoft as possible for simplification reasons.
  • Great article, Suzanne—couldn’t agree more. It is only logical for organisations – private or public-- to take a long, hard look “under the covers” to ensure that “application bloat” isn’t an issue. Between the consumerisation of IT , complex IT environments and ever changing licensing agreements, manually managing application usage is nearly impossible. Today, the only way that IT can effectively manage their assets is through automated software license optimisation solutions. End users seem to have a lot more say these days about what they want and how they want it, the when is a given….immediately. The software compliance risk around this is a major headache for CIO’s, who are ultimately responsible. Whilst private companies have been improving year on year with regard to software asset management , public have been somewhat slower. Perhaps this is a watershed moment.