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Thursday, 27 November 1986
Page: 2946

Senator VIGOR(10.55) —I have two very short questions.

Government senators-Oh no!

Senator VIGOR —I will ask the questions, but I do not really see why a department, because it arrives at this time of night, should fail to be properly examined. We would have adjourned the debate and done this at some other time. I note that the Government has again gone for an accelerated rate of property disposals at this stage. It is claiming $105m this year. I would be very interested to know whether the Department of Local Government and Administrative Services is currently on track for this property disposal program, because last year only $18m of the budgeted amount of $48m was actually realised in this area.

The second point I want to raise is the problem of standards when buying electronic data processing and other equipment. I asked about this point during the Estimates committee hearings. A recent Auditor-General's report on the Pisces computer system in the Army made the point very strongly that there was a need for some type of control on project specifications very early in the process. Perhaps a small cell within DOLGAS could look at unusual contract specifications and maybe examine how similar purchases have happened in the United States, especially when we are buying equipment from that country. It could also look at the highly technical matters associated with computer software or hardware. I ask: Is there any plan currently to improve the use of the purchasing dollar in these highly technical areas by setting up such a specialist cell, which I believe would be very useful? We asked about this but did not get any answer about future developments at the time of the Estimates committee hearings.