Page 3040 - Week 07 - Thursday, 30 June 2011

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Bill, as amended, agreed to.

Appropriation Bill 2011-2012

[Cognate paper:

Estimates 2011-2012—Select Committee report—government response]

Debate resumed.

Proposed expenditure—Part 1.8—Shared Services Centre—$9,546,000 (net cost of outputs) and $5,570,000 (capital injection), totalling $15,116,000.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (4.56): The committee made some nine recommendations in the area of Shared Services. I will not go through them all; I would just recommend that members do read them. They covered a number of areas.

We found out that Shared Services is now Shared Services ICT—SSICT. It is an interesting acronym. I would like to point out to members that Ovum has recently done some questioning of the shared services concept. There have been some articles published about it recently which basically say that the savings are not really there; that most public servants are not happy with what is occurring and really do not see the value of what is happening. There was a small article in the Canberra Times, I believe, which said:

… shared services, such as centralised IT departments, do not save enough money to make them worthwhile. “The move to shared services does involve upheaval and invariably means changing software applications, which in turn can require system and data migration and all the complexity that this entails,” … The survey shows also that many public-sector agencies worry about losing control of key business operations by moving to shared services.

What we did learn about in particular in Shared Services was the issue of procurement. We had a long discussion on the issue of the Jerrabomberra and Rivers fire sheds. Mr Speaker, you will be amazed to learn that the actual building costs of the project were only 59 per cent and the rest of it went on contingency and management fees. And you do have to question that high level.

We have asked that the Procurement Board conduct an immediate review of the processes, and that has not been agreed to by the government, which I think is a shame. It is an interesting project. There have been a number of complaints. All of the blame has been placed by the minister on the contractor, as I guess you would, as an incompetent minister who has never delivered a capital works project on time, on budget or on scope. Yet it is the volunteers at the Jerrabomberra and Rivers fire sheds who will live with the failures.

I think it is a rather disappointing decision by the government not to accept that recommendation. There are things to be learnt here. Something went wrong. When you end up with a shed where you cannot back your truck in and open the doors on either side or you have finishes that are not acceptable then I think there are some questions to be asked.

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