The federal government is to embark on a massive overhaul of its troubled technology effort, putting more than 100 projects, each worth more than $10 million, under the microscope.
The move looks set to be the biggest ever shake-up of Australian government IT, significantly weakening the grip of Canberra mandarins on the $6.2 billion spent on info tech by the Commonwealth each year.
First to feel the blowtorch will be the $1 billion replacement of Centrelink's automated payment system and Defence's new "enterprise resource planning" project, which also comes with a $1 billion price tag.
The plan, to be announced on Friday, comes in the wake a string of IT disasters for the government like the infamous Census fail, the recent Tax Office meltdown, the Child Support payment debacle and others.
The plan, from Digital Innovation Minister Angus Taylor, could result in some red faces in Canberra with the reviews to be made public "where appropriate".
There will also be an upskilling of the public service to reduce the over-reliance on private contractors who often reap massive windfall profits from taxpayer-funded projects that go long over schedule and over-budget, sometimes by hundreds of millions of dollars.
Fairfax revealed this week the latest Commonwealth tech wreck, a failed attempt to replace the Child Support Agency's system, was chewing through at least $100,000 a day in taxpayers' money, most it going to pay contractors.
The Tax Office is still struggling to recover from December's disastrous crash of its online systems and as a result, much of the ATO's digital work program this year was being abandoned in a desperate struggle to get tax time started on schedule.
The government has endured a storm of criticism over the Centrelink's "robo-debt" recovery program which uses an automated data-matching program to try to track down people who have been overpaid their welfare benefits and frustration with the troubled myGov portal has been running high for several years.
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Angus Taylor said the Canberra bureaucracy would be moving toward a UK-style system where a central office of IT specialists, the Government Digital Service, must sign-off on big-spending IT projects proposed by Britain's Civil Service.
Mr Taylor told Fairfax that the Digital Transformation Agency will have a "formal role" in signing off on big projects initially, with smaller jobs to come later.
"It had a very positive impact in the UK, not everyone loved it on day one, but it had a very positive impact, I've seen it with my own eyes," he said.
Mr Taylor said he was also moving to address a key criticism often levelled against the public service, that its lack of in-house technical skills was a critical weakness leaving it at the mercy of the private sector.
"IT is moving so fast now, we need central oversight, we need shared skills," the minister said.
A small group of multinational computing giants have a lucrative stranglehold on federal public service projects, and Mr Taylor said he was opening up the field for smaller local players, boosting by 10 per cent the level of of small businesses supplying IT services to the public service
"That will have a very big impact on the IT service sector in government," he said.
"If you can break projects down into smaller pieces then it is easier for a range of providers to provide services, that does mean we have to have to have more in-house integration skills...and it is critical we build those skill if we are to get to where we need to go."
Mr Taylor said the public service had some good stories to tell in its tech efforts, citing the Immigration Department's successful SmartGate project and recent improvements to the myGov log-in protocols which had succeeded in attracting more users to the portal.
"We do see great projects with great outcomes," he said.
"We want to see more of them faster."