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NSW 2015-16 Budget puts a spotlight on whole-of-government ICT

by Pallavi Singhal •
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Whole-of-government ICT initiatives led by the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation are the big winners in the 2015-16 NSW Budget, which also delivers on eHealth initiatives, election commitments to provide technology funding for policing, and a new family and community services interface.

The Budget’s bottom line is showing an actual surplus of $2.1 billion for 2014-15 and a projected surplus of $2.5 billion in 2015-16. The surplus is aided by a range of procurement reforms, policies to eliminate “unnecessary duplication across Government”, and a whole-of-government efficiency dividend of 1.5 per cent, which are expected to deliver total savings of more than $1 billion over the four years to 2018-19.  

Although it lacks big-ticket ICT projects, the Budget includes ICT allocations for new and ongoing programs across a number of agencies.

The Department of Finance, Services and Innovation has received a total of more than $300 million for whole-of-government and multi-agency ICT initiatives, including funding of $167 million for the provision of “shared transactional services to the Government, including procurement, fleet, ICT, human resource, finance and business services”. The funding is not restricted to internal government programs, with budget documents including the option of contracting private providers where they offer better value for money.

Funding of $64 million has been allocated over four years for the ongoing whole-of-government data centre consolidation program. According to budget figures, agencies had purchased 1,892 kilowatts of space in the State’s two new GovDC facilities by 2014-15, nearly three times the 687kW purchased in 2013-14. A total of 2,426kW is expected to be purchased in 2015-16, indicating an acceleration in the take-up of the Government’s data centre reform agenda.

Service NSW, the State’s integrated service delivery agency, has received funding of $362 million to improve its digital transaction services and roll-out a further 27 one-stop shops in 2015-16. The agency fell significantly short of the target of opening 29 new service centres in 2014-15, opening only 18 by the end of the financial year.

A reengineering of the agency’s electronic payment gateway, which is expected to operate as a centralised payment portal by the end of 2015 and eventually a whole-of-government system, has been allocated $98 million. The system will enable the use of electronic payment avenues such as PayPal and Apple Pay, according to Finance and Services Minister Dominic Perrottet.

Service NSW has also received $10 million over two years to integrate the OneGov cloud-based platform, aimed at simplifying government licencing services, into its customer-facing interface to make more than 150 self-service transactions available on mobile and tablet devices.

Service NSW currently delivers 800 multi-agency transactions, with further transactions expected to be rolled out in later years. It has reported a customer satisfaction rate of 4.9 out of 5 for both 2013-14 and 2014-15, according to budget documents.

The Department of Finance, Services and Innovation has also been allocated $36 million for whole-of-government strategic ICT reform, including government licensing and data centre reform. About 93 per cent of actions related to the Government’s procurement reform agenda were completed on time in 2014-15, and 95 per cent of NSW ICT Strategy actions were 2014-15 were successfully delivered, budget papers state.

Funding of $100 million over four years has been allocated to NSW Police for the delivery of the Government’s pre-election “Policing for Tomorrow” promise, which will include the trial and implementation of police body-worn cameras, tablets and mobile fingerprint scanners.

The Department of Family and Community Services has received $39.7 million, including a capital funding allocation of $26.1 million, for the design and implementation of a new frontline ICT system for caseworkers that will improve information sharing between the public and non-government sectors, as part of the Safe Home for Life child protection program.

Other ICT allocations in the 2015-16 Budget include:

  • $172 million for the Department of Education to continue 27 major projects, including ICT enhancements and the implementation of business support systems;
  • $101 million for TAFE NSW for 20 major infrastructure and ICT initiatives;
  • $99 million for Transport for NSW for the ongoing implementation of the Opal card system;
  • $87 million for Roads and Maritime Services for the continuation of planning for the Smart Motorways program and the delivery of real-time travel information systems and infrastructure;
  • $26 million for the Department of Industry, Skills and Regional Development’s Mobile Black Spot Program, to encourage regional investment by telecommunications providers;
  • $5 million for eHealth NSW to increase network capacity in rural Local Health Districts, and $1 million per annum for the rollout of 100 new Telehealth sites for rural and regional areas;
  • $10 million for the Department of Justice for the continued implementation of the $40 million Justice Audio Visual Link Consolidation Project, to expand the network in courts, prisons and police stations;
  • $2 million for improved child protection information sharing between the Department of Justice and the Department of Family and Community Services;
  • $7.9 million under the Rural Fire Service’s $31.8 million four-year program to improve public information systems, Rapid Aerial Response Capability and bush fire analysis, and $5.2 million to develop the Guardian system to replace the agency’s existing Bushfire Risk Information Management System;
  • $19.9 million for the Department of Planning and Environment’s continued development of its streamlined ePlanning system;
  • $18.2 million for the NSW Treasury’s new Financial Management Transformation program to deliver a new financial management framework and related ICT system; and
  • $2.4 million for the Public Service Commission’s ongoing Human Capital Management System project.
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