National

From Barton to Bangalore: offshore APS comes closer

The Australian Public Service (APS) is now openly canvassing sending some of its work to private sector players operating offshore, most likely India, according to tech industry reports.

Finance Department officials have said that the department was prepared to follow the NSW government's lead and send ...
Finance Department officials have said that the department was prepared to follow the NSW government's lead and send work to India. Photo: Michel OSullivan

Finance Department officials told private sector representatives last month that the department was prepared to follow the NSW government's lead and send work to India, as part of its ongoing drive to revive the "shared services" model of backroom operations.

Finance has been canvassing private players for advice on stepping up the shared services model being pushed under the Coalition government's "contestability agenda".

Industry news site iTnews is reporting that the Finance officials who conducted a closed-doors briefing for the sector in December were quite open about their interest in an outsourced NSW government contract that would see public sector work done in India.

The public servants said they would be watching the NSW deal, with a joint venture between Unisys and Infosys that will take over the state government's backroom outfit ServiceFirst.

The deal is worth $215 million and would see about 30 per cent of the work delivered from India.

Momentum for APS work to be undertaken in Asia has been growing for years. The ATO was in talks in 2014 with a giant multinational contractor about taking ATO work to the Philippines, and Health Department work has been going to India for several years.

iTnews reported on the minutes of the recent briefing, which confirmed that Finance was looking to take the idea of offshore shared services to the next level.

"Interested in gathering the information required to determine whether allowing any functions to be performed offshore would be beneficial, and understanding what the benefits (and associated risks) of this approach might be," the briefing notes say.

"Finance would like to understand industry's views on which (if any) services could be effectively provided offshore."

It was also revealed at the briefing that more federal agencies were keen to act as providers of shared services, joining the official and rapidly expanding official Shared Services Centre operating out of the departments of Education and Employment.

Defence, the Tax Office, Treasury, the Department of Industry, and a group of smaller regulatory agencies said they wanted to join the wave of shared services enthusiasm sweeping the public service.

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