Qld govt terminates ICT Industry Workgroup funding

The Queensland ICT Industry Workgroup has had its governmental funding cut, leaving it with six to 12 months to transform itself by using the money it has remaining.
Written by Michael Lee, Contributor

update The Queensland Government has terminated funding for its ICT Industry Workgroup, leaving the industry with as little as six months' worth of financial means.

ICT Industry Workgroup executive officer Paul Campbell confirmed the government's actions with ZDNet Australia today, stating that it simply received a letter from the department's office stating that the workgroup's funding had been terminated. The group received approximately AU$150,000 per year in government funding.

"The minister had made, publicly, various statements in the last three months or so, both pre- and post-election, about her support for the workgroup, so it was a disappointment to hear [it] right out of the blue," Campbell said.

"We didn't even get a letter from the minister. It ended up just being a manager in her department that wrote the letter."

Although the workgroup's funding has been cut, it will have up to a year to continue its work, due to careful planning of its finances.

"We've been prudent with the funding we've received, and we've accumulated enough to keep working on projects for the next six to 12 months, depending on the level of activity."

But given that funding is not likely to return after this, Campbell said that the workgroup will have to evolve into another form in order to ensure that the IT industry is properly represented.

"I don't want the workgroup to fold with a whimper over this. [We're at] a time when there needs to be a strong, single voice for the industry more than ever before."

Former Software Queensland board member Bruce Mills said that cutting the workgroup's funding is a great decision, and should have happened years ago. He claims that the workgroup has not truly represented the views of the industry.

"The ICT Industry Workgroup had lost its way, and this is now a chance for industry and the government to engage in proper discussion in an open and honest way that the entire industry can participate in, without a few ICT industry elite driving their own agenda.

"I look forward to watching with interest a new engagement model taking shape for the benefit of both industry and government."

Following his resignation from Software Queensland in protest of alleged gagging by the government, Mills started his own national ICT industry body, the Outsourcing Council Asia Pacific (OCAP). However, Campbell said that it is unlikely that the ICT Industry Workgroup will work with Mills' OCAP.

"I haven't had any discussions with Bruce [Mills] for many months. Bruce attacked the Workgroup, he attacked the industry, so it's difficult to see there being an alignment of views at this stage," Campbell said.

The Queensland Government has yet to provide any reason for the funding cut; however, Campbell speculated that it may be due to the new IT minister, Ros Bates, wanting to set up an advisory group for herself.

"We think that's a reasonable thing to do — to have worthy individuals there providing advice based on their experience — and we're certainly not in any way opposed to that, but it's not the same as having an industry body," he said.

Instead, Campbell pointed to past debacles, such as the health payroll project failure, when the workgroup hadn't been involved from the beginning.

Meanwhile, Campbell is doubtful of how government reviews of IT projects will be done without the workgroup's input representing the industry.

"We don't know how and when those reviews will be done. If they're going to be done internally ... then that's public servants telling other public servants how industry will react."

ZDNet Australia contacted the Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts, but had not received a response at the time of writing.

Update at 4.49pm, Thursday 19 July 2012: added comment from Bruce Mills.

Editorial standards