When the freshly elected Newman Government handed down its first budget in September 2012 after just six months in Government it could have been expected to be light on ICT initiatives. A government-wide ICT Audit and Peter Costello’s Queensland Commission of Audit were still underway and the Government was hesitant to dig deep until it truly knew what it was dealing with in the northern state.
However this year Treasurer Tim Nicholls has tabled a 2013-14 State Budget that is once again less than generous for ICT, which begs the question, with all this pent up ICT expenditure in Queensland when will the dam burst?
Budget Papers contain firm evidence that the market has been subdued as agencies await the outcome of the ICT Audit, which was submitted to Government back in October but is yet to be released.
Revenue charged by State ICT infrastructure provider CITEC in 2012-13 is forecast to be $12.8 million or seven per cent below estimates contained in the last budget. CITEC explains that “the decrease is attributable to declining Government ICT expenditure by agencies awaiting the outcomes of the ICT Audit” in the fine print of its income statement.
The bulk of new ICT expenditure contained in this year’s Budget will be consumed by the ongoing remediation of the Queensland Health payroll system. An additional $384.3 million over four years will go towards operation, maintenance and enhancements to the notorious initiative.
The 2013-14 financial year will also see $135.1 million spent towards ongoing replacement and eHealth programs at Health, including a $107.5 million investment in future ICT capability to support the eHealth Strategy, an asset replacement program and implementing National Health Reform. The figure also includes $27.6 million to continue the roll-out of Queensland’s electronic Medical Record, reporting systems, medications management and discharge platforms.
Power generator Stanwell Corporation will spend $27 million on unspecified ICT capital projects in the year.
The Queensland Police Service has come away with $14.5 million to further its own ICT refresh and $4.8 million for its secure fixed data network linking the agency to the Department of Justice and Attorney-General and the Department of Community Safety.
The Budget Papers do drop a few hints on what the year ahead could hold for ICT policy reforms, as responses and implementation plans to the State’s various audits unfurl themselves.
In 2013-14 the Department of Science, IT, Innovation and the Arts (DISITIA) plans to develop a range of strategies in response to the State’s underlying ICT troubles, including:
- A Public Sector ICT Renewal Strategy and Implementation Plan;
- A Queensland Government ICT Portfolio Strategy – governance and accountability framework; and
- An action plan for implementing the recommendations of the ICT Audit.
It will also work towards introducing contestability to the range of corporate services currently supplied by DSITIA commercial units such as CITEC and QSS.
It will do so, however, from a significantly reduced Departmental operating budget, down $62.8 million or 14 per cent on 2012-13 actuals.
For more information, please contact the Editor (02) 9955 9896.