The Federal Government has not failed to introduce some market-changing ICT ideas – which will have equally market-changing price tags – in its sixth and possibly final budget.
But in a tight spending environment and facing a looming election, it has held off from funding them this time around and as a result an initial tally of ICT allocations comes in under $500 million, less than the $743 million identified in 2012-13.
(For a definitive list of funded ICT projects and ICT components of mixed projects, keep and eye out for Intermedium’s Budget IT Online)
Rather than big funding commitments, the 2013-14 Federal Budget contains a sort of ICT wish-list made up of business cases and investigations into major programs, leaving Labor’s own budget bottom line unburdened by their cost in the full knowledge that an incoming Coalition Government could roll back initiatives as it pleases anyway.
- The Department of Finance and Deregulation will receive $2.8 million to investigate the potential benefits of a whole-of-government coordinated rationalisation of ERP systems over the next two financial years.
- AusAID has also received a hefty $2.2 million to write-up a business case to implement its own ERP platform, suggesting that the task at hand is expected to be a big one.
- The Department of Human Services will begin work on a first pass business case for the replacement or upgrade of its Income Security Integrated System (ISIS), which calculates and delivers welfare payments for over 100 social security programs. No extra funding has been allocated to the work.
- Another $42,500 will go towards a business case for reforms and hosting alterations to the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relation’s Child Care Management System (CCMS), which calculates child care benefit and child care rebate payments.
The onus will be on whomever holds power after September to decide whether these business cases are passed and funded in future budgets. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has promised a Commission of Audit into government operations commencing “immediately” if he becomes Prime Minister. It is likely that a reduction in the number of agency ERP systems will be viewed favourably by a new Government focussed on public sector efficiency, but Labor’s other business cases may face serious threats.
That isn’t to say that big new ICT projects were totally absent from the budget papers.
The Department of Foreign Affair and Trade (DFAT) was the biggest winner receiving $215.9 million over five years for the upgrade of Australia’s International Communications Network (ICN), also known as the Secure Australian Telecommunications and Information Network (SATIN).
“The upgraded ICN will strengthen classified connectivity and information sharing, increase protection against cyber threats, strengthen coordination and decision-making through improved connectivity, and improve productivity by addressing limitations of the current system,” the papers say.
The Department of Human Services (DHS) has received $34.7 million to replace its system for managing child support payments between separated parents known as Cuba, which it wants to have up and running by December 2015.
And despite the Government’s troubled history with similar projects, the Department of Finance and Deregulation will try its hand at the implementation of a whole-of-government web-based grants management system. It has received $9.1 million over four years for the task.
For strategic insights into what the 2013-14 Budget will mean for the ICT market register now for Intermedium’s annual Federal Budget Briefing, featuring a guest address from Australian Government Chief Technology Officer John Sheridan.
For more information, please contact the Editor (02) 9955 9896.