Australian Commonwealth government IT Outsourcing (ITO) policies : helping or hindering practice?

  • Joanne Hein

    Student thesis: Professional Doctorate


    The focus of this thesis is on identifying, learning from and leveraging recent Australian Commonwealth government experience with Information Technology Outsourcing (ITO) from a practitioner’s view point. The specific desired outcome of this research is to learn from the past and inform the development of future ITO policies to the benefit of the Australian Commonwealth government, ITO policy developers and ITO practitioners. Thus the primary research question is “Has Australian Commonwealth government ITO policy helped or hindered practice?” The scope of the research spans more than two decades and three major and different Australian Commonwealth government ITO policy periods: the late 1980s to 1997 (Period 1),1997 to 2001 (Period 2) and 2001 to 2011 (Period 3). Research on the impact of the three waves of ITO policy reform on government agency decisions through its outsourcing lifecycle has not previously been conducted and therefore affords evidence of originality by the discovery of new knowledge and by the exercise of independent critical thinking. This research shows, for the first time, independent research into practitioners’ views of the practical impacts the Australian Commonwealth government ITO policies and other factors had on agency ITO performance. The practitioner view is important because better policy outcomes are achieved where there is close interaction between those involved in policy development and policy implementation (Keating 2004:101). A sourcing lifecycle model (Lifecycle Model) is used as the scaffolding for collecting and presenting the data and a case study approach is used to explore the experiences of practitioners in agencies that had outsourced under each of the ITO policy periods: with a particular focus on practitioner views of the importance of the 54 Lifecycle Model steps and the agency’s performance. Collecting the data in this way allows the research findings to be incorporated into the practices of ITO practitioners and policy developers. This thesis makes a distinct and significant contribution to knowledge and understanding of ITO in the Australian Commonwealth government. ITO is a risky venture and demands strategies that treat it as such (Rouse & Corbitt 2003:89). As this thesis shows, a key area neglected in the growing literature on ITO are the views of those implementing such policies in ITO practice. Furthermore, the research set out in this thesis provides new opportunities to reduce this risk for the Australia Commonwealth government by re-crafting Procurement Policy instruments; retaining a devolved ITO policy framework supplemented by more central agency coordination; and incorporating the sourcing Lifecycle Model into the Procurement Policy Framework.
    Date of Award2012
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorChris Sadleir (Supervisor), Monica Kennedy (Supervisor) & Anni Dugdale (Supervisor)

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