Harley rejects conflict of interest queries

21 October, 2009 by IF

By Brendan Swift

Screen Australia boss Ruth Harley says agency chairman and IBM Australia managing director Glen Boreham did not influence her decision to reject two recommendations that the agency continue using major IBM rival Apple Mac.


Harley told a Senate Estimates Committee earlier this week that she rejected both a staff report and a separate PricewaterhouseCoopers report, which both recommended it use Mac computers.

Senator for Western Australia, Scott Ludlam, asked Harley if Boreham was involved in her decision to instead favour the PC platform.

Harley replied: “No, he was not, but I did ring him and ask if I could use one of his senior staff to help me think through the issues.”

Harley also said she was aware of Boreham’s role at IBM Australia but his position was not directly or indirectly important to her decision-making process.

The merger of Film Australia, the Film Finance Corporation and the Australian Film Commission into Screen Australia last July prompted the IT platform review.

Harley said she made the difficult decision after “some months thinking about it” and offered to write something for Senator Pearson to substantiate her view.

“It was not a view formed out of thin air … In fact, neither study made clear to me until later in the piece that there never was a Mac or PC option; there was a PC option or a mixed Mac-PC option.

Harley said Screen Australia’s head of IT had also subsequently changed his mind and recommended a move to PCs rather than Macs.

Screen Australia chief financial officer Ross Pearson said he was leading the project and did not discuss the matter with the chairman.

He said the decision to move to PCs was based on three reasons: Screen Australia’s main corporate applications were already running on PC servers; they could not identify any other corporate organisations, including their main stakeholders, using Macs; and the agency would have a smaller “talent pool” of staff able to use Macs.