IT win­dow closes as con­trolled shift fails

The Advertiser - - NEWS - DANIEL WILLS STATE PO­LIT­I­CAL EDI­TOR

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.

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