ACMA looks to shared services as budget cuts loom

The Australian Communications and Media Authority is exploring using shared services with other government agencies as it seeks to cut back on costs.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is exploring use of shared services for IT and backoffice functions to be implemented in the next financial year, as the government regulator faces budget cuts.

In the first budget of the new Coalition government in May this year, the ACMA said it received a 0.25 percent efficiency dividend increase over the next four financial years for a total of AU$1.9 million, and then an additional one-off efficiency dividend cut to 1 percent of base funding of AU$3.3 million over the four years.

To meet the need to reduce the organisation's operating costs, the ACMA said in answers to questions on notice from May's budget estimates hearings that it had been "exploring shared services with other agencies".

"The ACMA and other agencies recognise the potential benefits from implementing shared services, particularly given the respective constrained financial circumstances all agencies face," the ACMA said, flagging a proposal would see shared services implemented in the next financial year.

"Initial work explored shared services opportunities in corporate functions such as ICT and financial systems, with implementation likely to occur in the financial year 2015-2016."

ZDNet sought additional information from the ACMA on what agencies it would join as part of a shared services arrangement, but no response had been received at the time of writing.

The Department of Education and Department of Employment has already established the Shared Services Centre in February this year to provide shared desktop, application development, website hosting, network, internet and other IT services between the two departments and other agencies.

The Coalition's 2013 election platform stated that smaller government agencies would be expected to use shared or cloud services unless it could do the tasks itself more efficiently.

In the Commission of Audit's report released in May, it was argued that the federal government approach shared services in a staged adoption process.

"All Commonwealth agencies perform common corporate functions, such as paying employees and preparing financial statements. Given these activities are common across government, there is scope for economies of scale to be achieved, both in the procurement of back-office technology and service delivery."

Last week the federal government called for expressions of interest from companies to take over payment processing for the Department of Human Services and Veterans' Affairs.

The ACMA also revealed in responses to questions on notice that in 2014, it replaced its 2009 Dell desktop fleet with 600 Acer desktops for over half a million dollars, and acquired 20 new Panasonic Toughbooks at AU$4,458 each.

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