IT window closes as controlled shift fails
THE jobs of 73 public servants are in limbo after they offered to resign from the Government under a computer privatisation plan that has now been put on indefinite hold.
The Advertiser yesterday revealed that an almost $400 million deal to outsource management and support of public sector computers, laptops and tablets had stalled, amid fears it will collapse.
Earlier this year, 73 information technology staff in SA Health and the Department of Premier and Cabinet took up the opportunity to move from the public sector to the new private provider in the first wave of a transition plan that will ultimately cover about 180 Government IT workers.
They have been forced to remain in the public sector, with their futures unclear, after the July 17 start date was missed and the Government has failed to provide a new plan for the move to progress.
The Public Service Association has raised concerns the deal could be about to collapse, while the Government claims it is continuing negotiations to ensure the privatisation stacks up. Sources close to the project say a major sticking point is the new hardware assumes access to Windows 10, while most Government agencies are still using Windows 7.
It’s understood departmental estimates predict extra costs in the tens of millions of dollars under a new contract Premier Jay Weatherill said would be a “win-win-win” for jobs, taxpayers and services.
PSA secretary Nev Kitchin said staff were enduring major disruption to their personal lives and households budgets as they waited for Government clarity on the their jobs and the privatisation.
He said many rearranged superannuation conditions and other spending in anticipation of a special one-year allowance from the private company, DXC. “A large numbers of workers are now in flux, and unsure,” he said.
“Some of them salary sacrificed to the maximum amount, ready to make the transition, with the expectation of an about $150 allowance per pay would kick in,” Mr Kitchin said. “That hasn’t happened, and they’re still being provided with no additional date.
“They’re not particularly high wage earners. “To say it’s not going to have an impact on their families is an absolute nonsense.
Many of the staff are based in state hospitals, where they currently provide IT services.
DPC chief executive Don Russell has declined to comment on the progress of the “large and complex” $400 million computer privatisation due to “commercial sensitivities”. “The initial transfer of staff has been delayed to allow time for the project to be effectively delivered,” Dr Russell said, adding he was advised the project was expected to deliver benefits.
In a missive to staff ahead of the go-live delay, DPC program director ICT transformation Sinead O’Brien said “the work being done now will pay dividends” for all public sector computer users.
She was also the senior executive on a hiring panel which signed off on former chief information officer Veronica Theriault, who has since been charged with abuse of public office. That hire is now the focus of an Independent Commission Against Corruption maladministration probe.
NO WIN: Jay Weatherill.
NO COMMENT: Don Russell.