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Wednesday, 21 July 2010 00:57

Election 2010: Campaign hits IT bottom line


With the Australian Government now in 'caretaker' mode ahead of the August 21 poll, the shutters have come down on hundreds of federal technology projects and the high pressure hose of Commonwealth IT procurement dollars has slowed to a trickle.

While there is not a lot pomp and ceremony to the turning off of the taps, even Julia Gillard's short campaign strategy will have a big impact on the tech sector.

Although the Prime Minister announced the election data last Saturday, it was not until exactly 4.59pm on Monday when the Governor-General's official secretary Stephen Brady read the proclamation that dissolved the Parliament at the public entrance under the Great Verandah that caretaker provisions came into effect.

For the process oriented: The Clerks of both the House and the Senate attended the reading of the proclamation - together with the Serjeant-at-Arms - which is then posted on the door of the House of Representatives. The House was thus officially dissolved at 5pm Monday, the election writs are issued shortly after and took effect from 6pm.

With that simple ceremony, the multi-billion dollar engine room of the Australian IT sector shudders to a halt in relation to procurement. And according to public sector IT research specialists Intermedium, hundreds of contracts and projects are now on hold.

Intermedium director Judy Hurditch says the period of inactivity will last until at least the beginning of September if Labor is returned to office.

But if the Coalition wins Government, the tech sector may need to tighten its belt, with Hurditch warning the slowdown could last until the New Year if Tony Abbott chooses to make substantial changes to IT policy and direction.

"As many as two thirds of the 321 procurements originally scheduled for the first half of 2010-11 are likely to be delayed as a result of the caretaker conventions," Hurditch said.

"We have also identified 21 planned procurements as being highly politically sensitive, which would make them the most vulnerable to being amended or even dropped if there is a change of Government at the election."

Despite the impact of the caretaker period, Intermedium anticipates a number of key procurement opportunities within the ICT market in this financial year.

Agencies have flagged 455 planned ICT procurements for 2010-11 and beyond. IT Services procurements make up nearly half of this total with 210 planned procurements, followed by Software with 96 and Hardware with 87.

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