ACT’s Treasurer Andrew Barr has handed down the Territory’s 2014-15 Budget and indications are that its ICT-related funding far surpasses that of the previous two financial years.
The ‘Budget in Brief’ indicates that $75 million in new funding has been allocated for transformational ICT projects over the next four years.
Intermedium’s BudgetIT indicates that $18.93 million was allocated to new ICT initiatives in 2013-14 while $8.85 million was earmarked in 2012-13.
Intermedium will be releasing its detailed list of 2014-15 funded ICT initiatives along with its estimates of ICT Operational Expenditure in its Budget IT online database as soon as possible. Only following detailed analysis of the Budget papers will it be possible to establish where the 2014-15 ICT funding sits relative to the previous Budgets. However, the readily identifiable initiatives are listed below.
The Commerce and Works Directorate (CWD) has received the largest allocation of ICT funding. The Government plans to save $8.6 million over the next four years with a whole-of-government cloud infrastructure platform. $1.29 million has been allocated to the platform’s development in 2014-15.
The Budget lists one of its 2014-15 priorities as “implementing cloud storage and retrieval, including a Cloud policy, to reduce cost and to increase business agility”.
It’s the ACT’s first significant foray into cloud. It follows an indication in September 2013 that the Territory was moving towards introducing cloud. When specifying the requirements for its whole of government hardware catalogue, tender documents stated, “The Territory seeks to introduce a notebook that leverages a cloud-based environment without the need for a fully dedicated SOE based operating system.”
$5.93 million has been allocated in 2014-15 for a Revenue Collection Transformation. The funding will go towards replacing the existing revenue collection systems and upgrading online taxation services.
In addition, CWD will spend $3.6 million for Human Resources Information Management System (HRIMS) “to provide for the more efficient processing of payroll and human services functions.” A further $2.19 million will pay for an automated accounts payable system “that will reduce data entry and provide for the more efficient processing of invoices.”
The Education and Training Directorate has also received a large slice of ICT funding with $9.2 million allocated to digital infrastructure for schools as part of the Sustaining Smart Schools project. According to the Budget, “It includes the expansion of wireless access points in ACT public schools as part of the ‘Digital Canberra’ initiative”.
The Government has committed $15.875 million in capital expenditure (CapEx) to its online portal, iConnect. iConnect is “a digital platform to transform the delivery of ACT Government services to citizens, businesses and the Government. It is expected to save the ACT $9.735 million during the forward estimates period. The Government estimates that 84% of all Canberra Connect transactions will be done online in 2014-15.
A handful of other smaller projects also received funding, including:
- $440,000 for an Electoral ICT Systems update for the 2016 Election;
- $249,000 for Desktop computer and printer energy management software which is expected to save $378,000 over the three years from 2015-16;
- $300,000 for a feasibility study to identify an effective option for delivering a whole-of-government digital records capability; and
- $110,000 to implement an eTendering system.
The Federal Government announced in its 2014-15 Budget that it would shed 16,500 public service jobs over the next four years. The ACT Budget Estimates that 6,500 of these losses will be from the ACT.
However, Treasurer Barr says that the ACT Public Service’s levels ''won't fall below 2013-14 levels''. Instead, the Budget indicates it will employ another 142 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) staff over 2014-15.