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Australian science suffers through Fahey's blind determination on IT outsourcing.

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Australian Science Suffers Through Fahey's Blind Determination On IT Outsourcing Martyn Evans - Shadow Minister for Science and Resources

Media Statement - 7 September 2000

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Despite the Auditor General finding the Federal Government's information technology outsourcing program behind schedule, procedurally flawed and almost three times over its management budget, Finance Minister John Fahey today confirmed the Government's blind determination to force this counterproductive program on Commonwealth science agencies such as CSIRO, Shadow Minister for Science and Resources, Martyn Evans said today.

"IT outsourcing in science agencies will have a serious impact on research, both in the way the science is done and added costs - which means less money being available to do the science," Mr Evans said.

"Unfortunately, this is another example of ideology triumphing over common sense.

"The Government's IT outsourcing program has already failed to produce the promised millions in savings. Evidence shows that once Departments are lumbered with outsourcing, they can not achieve the pre-determined savings. Savings from outsourcing Government IT will only be realised if there is no upgrading of software, no replacement of hardware, no improvement in service delivery and no technical upgrades."

"Commonwealth science agencies have many dedicated staff who work as a team to address significant basic and applied research questions. This requires a substantial IT capability which goes well beyond the normal commercial computing requirement of many Government agencies."

"Science agencies in general and the CSIRO in particular, have special IT needs which can best be addressed by in-house staff who work as part of the research team, often in remote and harsh field conditions. These diverse IT demands will never be met by an external commercial provider in a cost effective way, and any attempt to do so will simply hinder the research effort and add to the bottom line cost of the organisation."

"The Government also has a sad track record of cutting public support for research and development, reducing University funding for science infrastructure, discouraging science students through higher HECS fees and trimming funding in the Budget for public sector science agencies year after year.

"The Government has already cut too much from our national science research effort and this current ideologically driven proposal is neither scientifically nor economically justifiable.

"Labor has called on the Government to abandon plans for outsourcing Commonwealth science agencies IT services and instead to give them the support they need to get on with the job of taking Australia on

the path of the Knowledge Nation."

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.