Western Australian agencies will have to take funding allocations in the 2013-14 State Budget with a grain of salt, as the Government establishes a strict new framework for evaluating new and existing projects.
A newly created Program Evaluation Unit in the Department of Treasury and a Steering Committee of Directors General will “conduct rolling program evaluations” of existing programs, which may result in vendor changes.
“These program evaluations will firstly establish that there is still a genuine need for a particular program or service, and secondly will identify opportunities for delivering the service more efficiently and effectively,” according to a budget fact sheet.
“This may result in government partnering with alternative service providers.”
New “sunset clauses” are also being introduced across new project proposals from January 2014 to limit the period that projects can receive additional expenditure. Beyond this period, programs will be subject to a “rigorous independent evaluation”. Projects that are unable to demonstrate value for money and a continuing achievement of objectives will be “ceased in favour of new areas of priority funding”.
The new project evaluation structure is expected to yield savings of $50 million per annum from 2014-15.
WA Health and Police are likely candidates for a visit from the Steering Committee. Both departments have received significant allocations for ongoing ICT projects in the current budget.
WA Health has once again come out on top with a 2013-14 funding allocation of $60 million for ICT systems and infrastructure. The money has been earmarked especially for the ongoing Albany Health Campus and Fiona Stanley Hospital projects.
This is the final allocation under WA Health’s Asset Investment Program fund that received a total of $249 million over the three years from 2011-12.
Beyond this, the Fiona Stanley hospital project has received funding of $108.5 million for 2013-14. The $2 billion project began in 2009 with a mammoth ICT allocation of nearly $250 million.
The opening of the hospital, initially slated for April 2014, has now been pushed back to October 2014, with clinical services to be fully implemented by April 2015.
The budget also hints at major upcoming health ICT investments, with WA Health required to identify new and existing ICT systems and infrastructure, including procurement, implementation and roll-out schedules and costs.
“This future investment requirement for the State’s health system could be substantial,” according to budget papers.
WA Police has received significant ICT funding for a number of ongoing projects. $22 million has been allocated for the replacement of the Regional Radio Network for this financial year. The $60 million project is expected to cost a further $18 million by 2017, according to forward estimates.
WA Police has also received $17.7 million for 2013-14 for its ongoing development of Core Business Systems. The total cost of the systems is expected to be around $35.4 million, with $3.7 million already spent.
The systems will cost an additional $22.1 million over three years in operational support expenses. $1.5 million of this has been earmarked for 2013-14.
A new $35.8 million fund has been established for an ICT infrastructure replacement and continuity program for 2013 to 2015. $18.9 million has been allocated for this financial year.
Self-funded energy firm Synergy has put aside $39.9 million for the further development and enhancement of its IT capability. This includes a $10.7 million replacement of critical IT by refreshing its aged server fleet, supporting network and storage capabilities. It will also see a $20.2 million allocation to maintain and enhance its existing hardware and software.
A number of other significant allocations featured in the budget include:
- $5.8 million in 2013-14 for the Department of Transport’s Driver and Vehicle Services ICT infrastructure development. This is just the tip of the iceberg for WA Transport, with nearly $58 million of the project’s total cost yet to be allocated;
- $1.5 million to fund the ongoing support of ICT infrastructure within the Department of Planning. This includes completing the Geographic Information Systems Projects - GIS map viewer and GIS data capture systems. Nearly $17 million of the Department’s ICT infrastructure fund remains unspent;
- $4.6 million for the WA Insurance Commission’s Asset Investment Program, including the replacement and refresh of ageing hardware, software and telecommunications infrastructure; and
- $19.4 million over four years in new funding for the WA Housing Authority’s Computer Hardware and Software Program. $5.3 million of this is expected to be spent in 2013-14.