NSW DET mum on IT review

The NSW Department of Education and Training has dodged questions on how the state government's review of IT spending is progressing.
Written by Suzanne Tindal, Contributor

The NSW Department of Education and Training has dodged questions on how the state government's review of IT spending is progressing.

The department was selected to be one of the first agencies to be put under the microscope to find savings from various areas including information technology. ZDNet.com.au asked the department how the review was progressing, how much the department considered could be saved and when the "line-by-line" review was due to finish.

"The NSW Government's review of ICT services has begun with the Department of Education and Training the first agency to begin this process. The department is currently in preliminary discussions with NSW Treasury," the department said in a statement.

The review, to be conducted by the "Better Services and Value Taskforce" was announced in the state's budget in June. The government hoped to make savings so as to keep expenditure growth at 4 per cent per annum.

The taskforce was to be formed of an independent chair, the NSW Treasury Secretary Michael Schur, the Director General of the Department of Premier and Cabinet John Lee and an independent member from the private sector.

In August, economist Stephen Sedgwick was appointed chair for the taskforce. Sedgwick has been hired as a consultant. He is currently a director of the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research at the University of Melbourne and a director of the Asian Development Bank in Manila. He has over 30 years of experience in the Australian public service and once served as the secretary for the Commonwealth Department of Finance.

Sedgwick is supported by Deputy Secretary of Treasury Stephen Brady who was appointed to head the new Expenditure Review Directorate in NSW Treasury. Temporary independent members with specialist knowledge in IT would also be appointed.

The taskforce was meant to meet on a monthly basis, according to an answer in July to Liberal MP Peter Debnam's questions in the legislative assembly. According to the answer to another Debnam question from 13 October, the taskforce had at least met in September but no independent member had yet been appointed to join its ranks.

"The taskforce met in September 2009 in NSW Treasury offices and discussed a range of matters, including the terms of reference of the taskforce, performance efficiency issues and agency amalgamations. A process is underway to select an independent member," the answer from Premier Nathan Rees' office read.

On 20 October Debnam asked again if an independent member had been appointed, but has yet not been given an answer.

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