DTA’s tech procurement to be scrutinised by audit office

Denham Sadler
National Affairs Editor

The Digital Transformation Agency’s procurement of ICT services will be scrutinised as part of a new investigation by the national audit office.

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has launched an inquiry into the Digital Transformation Agency’s (DTA) procurement of ICT-related services, with the final report to be tabled in September next year.

Despite a significant restructuring earlier this year which saw it move to PM&C and lose funding, the DTA is still responsible for managing whole-of-government digital procurement, and also regularly hands contracts to large consultancies for ICT-related work.

The audit will be assessing the effectiveness of the DTA’s procurement of ICT services, whether it has established a sound procurement framework, if it has conducted these procurements effectively and whether it has managed contracts effectively.

The DTA has brought in the likes of Deloitte, McKinsey and the Boston Consulting Group to work on some of its most prominent projects, including the development of COVIDSafe and the enhancement of myGov. These projects have since been moved away from the DTA as part of the restructuring earlier this year.

The agency is also responsible for setting up and managing ICT procurement for the government, through the setting up of marketplaces, panels and agreements.

It’s not the first time that the DTA has been in the ANAO’s crosshair, with a report last year finding that the agency did not follow procurement rules when establishing its Digital Marketplace, and that the process behind it were “not robust”.

The DTA is currently in the process of conducting its own audit of tech spending and capability within government departments and agencies. This audit was an “urgent” recommendation from the Thodey review of the Australian Public Service in 2018, but is still yet to be completed.

This review was aimed at helping to better understand the billions of dollars being spent on tech by the government, and will eventually form the basis of a whole-of-government “ICT blueprint” to improve internal capabilities.

But it was revealed that agencies were not surveyed about their own digital spend and capabilities until March this year.

A senate committee last week urged the government to clarify the status of this tech audit.

The same committee also raised concerns with issues around procurement in the APS, particularly in terms of tech services.

“The committee is concerned by the ANAO evidence indicating that agencies fall short of expected standards in their procurement and contract management activities,” the report said.

“The committee commends the work of the ANAO on drawing attention to this deficit and identifying where improvements can be made. In light of this, the committee considers that there is a need for an ongoing focus on improving APS capability in these areas to ensure that public money is managed judiciously.”

The committee recommended that the Department of Finance develop a comprehensive strategy to improve procurement and contract management capability across the public service.

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1 Comment
  1. Digital Koolaid 2 years ago

    The minister assisting the other minister (names deleted to protect the guilty) shared that the DTA had one purpose. It was a unique citizen log-in (as a university graduate the minister could only remember one UserID and Passphrase). But there was a second – to take control over the $10 Billion ICT spend from Finance. Yes, that’s the number 1 with 10 zeros after it. That’s ten thousand, million dollars a year. That’s $27,397,260 dollars and 27 cents every day. To (mis) quote Churchill – “never in the field of infotech has so much been paid by so many to so few”. Australia’s “best & brightest” disrupters have long since been shown the DTA door, but the procurement staff have their initials engraved on their desks. The unique citizen log-in languishes, and the minister himself is long gone, but the money river flows (forever offshore). And now the DTA is “auditing” tech spending and capability in other departments and agencies? To control all the $$$ …

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