ICT policy and operational personnel at the NSW Department of Finance and Services (DFS) have busy years ahead of them, with the portfolio’s 2011-12 Budget Papers revealing a solid ICT agenda.
The Department’s $1.48 billion operational budget and $394 million capital budget for 2011-12 includes funding for ICT initiatives in various DFS units including the Office of State Revenue (OSR), Land and Property Information, the Motor Accident Authority, StateFleet and shared services agency ServiceFirst.
"The key focus in the Finance and Services Budget is to support the delivery of whole of government reform initiatives across the portfolio," said Minister for Finance and Services, Greg Pearce.
“Central to the investment and reform program is making services better for the people of NSW and to this end we are enhancing online applications for customers and suppliers, and simplifying processes for dealing with Government,” he said.
The Government Services functions of DFS cover much of the ICT workload. Within this unit a range of ICT projects have been funded, including the delivery of online procurement tools, the extension of the Government Licensing Service and the continued delivery of the state’s data centre consolidations.
“Rather than being new, these are all initiatives commenced under the previous Labor government,” said Intermedium Managing Director, Judy Hurditch on the DFS work program.
“This is to be expected, given that the new Coalition government has not yet had sufficient time to put its own stamp on ICT priorities in the State. Its new ICT Governance arrangements are not yet fully in place and nor is there an endorsed ICT Strategy,” she said.
Hurditch said that the true character of the new Government’s approach to ICT will become apparent next year.
“The 2012-13 Budget is the one which will show how serious the Coalition Government is about ICT. The amount of new project funding the next budget reveals will show what value the Coalition Government attaches to the ability of ICT to deliver the kinds of innovation that reduce operational and staff expenses, as well as delivering increased client service delivery,” she said.
Another priority for the DFS is streamlining ServiceFirst, including the implementation of new finance and human resources systems to aid in the transition to arrangements outlined in the Blueprint for Corporate and Shared Services in 2010. Under the 2010 Blueprint, all State clusters (Super Departments) with less than 20,000 full time equivalent staff are set to progressively move their back office functions over to ServiceFirst.
“This is another project that was already underway,” said Hurditch. “What this shows is that these projects have been assessed as worth continuing with; they are seen as apolitical and necessary for the ongoing effort to reduce costs, as outlined in the Blueprint.”
StateFleet is set to implement a range of systems to help it mange the government’s travel expenditure, including a client information project to improve reporting, an eTag management service and the extension of the easyTransport web portal. These initiatives will also be funded from within the Government Services allocation of $414 million operating and $334 million capital expenditure budget.
Within the Office of State Revenue, which will operate from a $194 million operational budget and another $19 million in capital expenditure, a major modernisation of the RECOUPS core tax system is soon to commence.
The implementation of the MARS Land Tax Module will form the first stage of this systems redevelopment. Budget papers do not provide the value of this continuing initiative, but according to the agency’s 2009-10 Annual Report the project will be able to be completed within the $10.2 million budget it was initially allocated.
The OSR will also implement a fines enforcement system.
The Land and Property Information agency will redevelop its Spatial Information Exchange and convert paper records and historical aerial photography into electronic records with funding from its $184 million operating budget and $21 million capital budget.
Other agencies in the DFS cluster with ICT funding for 2011-12 are the Motor Accidents Authority which will continue with the rebuilding of its primary business systems and Work Cover which will receive $6 million to upgrade existing business systems technology and improve regional office accommodation.
For more on the future of ICT in the NSW Government attend Intermedium’s NSW Budget Briefing, and obtain greater detail about the implications of the NSW 2011-12 Budget on the public sector ICT market.