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ACT digs deep for health, justice in 2018-19 budget

by Tajna Biscevic •
Free resource

The Australian Capital Territory Government’s 2018-19 budget continues last year’s commitment to funding critical ICT infrastructure, with $26.7 million for new ICT projects as part of 2018-19's new infrastructure and capital initiatives.

Whole-of-Government ICT measures

$4.1 million over four years has been allocated to the continued rollout of digital record-keeping systems across government, with the intention of generating efficiencies in records management. This funding will go towards improving data accessibility and retrieval, reducing physical storage costs, and other related activities

$2.3 million over four years will go towards improving “the security and functionality of our cloud-based services by investing in specialised software”. The ensuing increase in the take up of cloud-based services, which has been on the ACT’s agenda for a number of years, is expected to offset the costs of the project.

According to the ACT Digital Strategy 2016-2019 the territory is moving towards a consumption-based services model with the intention of taking up a range of as-a-Service solutions. The strategy outlines the territory’s vision for a “fully digitised services and technology platform renovation”.

Budget documents also refer to the forthcoming creation of a Centre of Data Excellence within the Office of the Chief Digital Officer. The Centre will “facilitate the development of a whole of government approach to improving data management and analytics capabilities, including technology platforms, data management frameworks and governance with a focus on improved outcomes for citizens”.

Budget documents do not indicate how much funding will be set aside for the Centre, and recruitment for the Centre only began in April this year.

The Policy Innovation Team will receive $5.7 million over four years to conduct its investigation into approaches to service delivery as part of its red tape reduction reform agenda. Its findings are likely to contribute to the ongoing development of Access Canberra – an omni-channel service delivery agency established in 2014.

$2.1 million over two years will go towards the iConnect portal – a WofG single sign-on digital account set to be completed by June 2019.

Frontline Services

According to Chief Minister and Treasurer Andrew Barr, “one in every three dollars that the ACT government invests is in Health, so it’s the single biggest area of government responsibility”.

Some of this funding will flow to ICT, with $22.6 million over four years to go towards replacing the ACT Pathology Laboratory Information System. The new system will be cloud-based and “support the entire process of pathology services, from ordering and specimen collection, through to testing, validation, reporting and billing”.

$25.6 million over four years will go towards two new core health ICT systems: a purchasing and inventory control system; and a hospital clinical communication system.

As part of this project, the government will assess cyber security vulnerabilities across ACT Health’s ICT systems, with a view to developing a cyber security plan for Health.

Other frontline services agencies receiving funding for initiatives with ICT implications include the Justice and Community Safety Directorate and the Community Services Directorate.

As well recruiting more police officers, the ACT government will upgrade mobile technology for ACT Policing with $6.3 million over four years to equip all officers with new smartphones. These devices are intended “to improve the secure capture, transmission and sharing of data and radio communications” for police.

A total of $404,000 will go towards the territory’s commitment to participating in the National Facial Biometrics Matching scheme. Other jurisdictions have also signaled their intent to participate in the scheme, with NSW indicating it would commit $12 million towards the scheme in the 2018-19 budget.

$1.1 million in funding over three years has been allocated for a new jury management system in the Supreme Court. The new system is expected to “offer an improved range of functions, including the collection of penalties from potential jurors who fail to attend jury service”.

After being deferred twice, the Community Services Directorate has received $2.7 million over four years to “expand the scope” of its new Child and Youth Protection Services client management system and replace legacy systems. The expansion will enable the system to “integrate with key stakeholders, enabling real time exchange of risk, safety and well-being information about children and young people”.

Last year the Community Services directorate also received $0.7 million in funding to transfer critical child protection information to the Child and Youth Protection Services’ new Client Management System to improve integration and coordination of client data to support decision making.

$1.4 million over four years will also go towards “family group conferencing services” for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families at risk of ongoing involvement with the child protection system.

Despite a growing population increasing demand on existing services, ACT’s population is highly centralised, allowing the government to introduce comparatively inexpensive digital WofG services such as the $120,000 free public wi-fi network, as proposed in the Digital Canberra Action Plan 2014-2018.

Other ICT-related initiatives in the 2018-19 budget include:

  • $4.6 million over four years to improve road safety with new speed cameras, including two license plate recognition cameras.
  • $4.7 million over four years will go towards the implementation of a new Compulsory Third Party insurance reform initiative, which will require a new ICT system.
  • $2.1 million over four years for a digital platform for Housing ACT to improve service delivery with a digital platform that enables clients to access services online.
  • $750,000 over three years will go towards the capture and storage of aerial images to better support government planning processes and the management of urban and rural environments.
  • $586,000 over four years will go towards a software upgrade for the Electronic Voting and Counting System for the 2020 election.
  • $557,000 over two years will go towards replacing legacy ICT systems with a new case management system for the Human Rights Commission.
  • $189,000 over three years for The Office of Legislative Assembly to transition towards a digital committee, as well as $374,000 over two years for the digitisation of workflows and preservation of documents. This will include a review of business processes to identify opportunities for further digitisation.
  • $460,000 in 2018-19 will go towards the design of a Customer Centric Services Digital for “improved response times and accuracy of communication” between residents and City Services field officers.
  • $360,000 over three years from 2019-20 for Transport Canberra and the City Services Directorate to implement a mapping and analytics platform which will capture geographic information and allow data management and storage. The platform will enable real-time “location-based data and intelligence to inform business processes and decisions”.
  • $9.7 million over three years has been set aside for a Priority Investment Program to provide funding for organisations in “key industry sectors such as: cyber security, ICT and e-government, defence technology, agritech and environment, renewable energy and space, spatial and satellite technology”.

Complete analysis of the budget papers is currently being undertaken by Intermedium and will be available as a detailed online list of 2018-19 funded ICT initiatives, along with estimates of ICT Operational Expenditure by agency in the Budget IT online database, at a later date. Only the readily identifiable new ICT-related initiatives have been identified in this article.

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