DFAT to review pressured ICT function

The federal Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) will bring in an outside consultant to review its ICT function, which has come under "considerable pressure" due to recent changes in its operating environment.The review will assess the extent to which DFAT's ICT systems and support services are meeting current and anticipated business needs and will take place after a consultant is appointed early in the new year, according to tender documents released by the department yesterday.

The federal Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) will bring in an outside consultant to review its ICT function, which has come under "considerable pressure" due to recent changes in its operating environment.

The review will assess the extent to which DFAT's ICT systems and support services are meeting current and anticipated business needs and will take place after a consultant is appointed early in the new year, according to tender documents released by the department yesterday.

It will also identify measures to improve ICT services and work practices in the short to medium term (within existing resource levels) and broadly identify the opportunities and risks for DFAT of "major developments" affecting its ICT operating environment.

The last such review was undertaken in September 2000.

"Since then there have been significant changes in the department's ICT operating environment that make another review timely," the tender documents said.

"Collectively these changes have placed the department's ICT systems and its support services under considerable pressure and increased the risks and costs associated with delivering high-quality ICT services that meet the ICT needs of the department and its external clients."

A spokesperson for the department could not immediately comment on the review, but the tender documents outlined the following changes in DFAT's ICT operating environment since the 2000 review:

  • Major advances in IT technology and shorter life spans for commercially sourced IT systems
  • A sharp rise in client information needs
  • A substantial decrease in the level of ICT staffing support since a 2003-04 restructure
  • A significant increase in the number of users from other government organisations (such as the Department of Defence, the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs and AusAID), and more expected due to growing pressure to deliver whole of government ICT solutions

The review will deliver a report on DFAT's ICT systems by 4 May, 2007.

DFAT is Australia's public face to the world, operating in more than 80 overseas countries and with a mandate of advancing the national interest internationally. The department has some 3,400 employees in Australia and overseas.

DFAT has also recently flagged plans to refresh its international telephony network, in a move that will affect the systems of other agencies.

The department's IT function is headed up by chief information officer Sam Gerovich.