The West Australian Government has brought down a tough budget for 2014-15 containing harsh new savings measures and little new funding for ICT.
Against a background of declining revenues, due to a slowdown in mining investment and a low allocation of GST funding, the WA Government is implementing strong savings measures in a bid to achieve a budget surplus for 2014-15.
General Government Sector agencies are being asked to achieve a reduction of 15 percent in ‘non-essential procurement’ to save $169 million in 2014-15. Most agencies are also being asked for a 5 percent reduction in their Asset Investment Programs to make total savings of $478 million over four years, including $130 million in 2014-15.
Undoubtedly this tightening of funding for both capital and expense initiatives will impact all areas of government spending, including spending on ICT.
The WA Government did announce new funding for ICT initiatives for WA Health, WA Police and Regional Development, however two of these three measures are additional funding for the continuation of existing initiatives.
WA Health will receive an additional $40 million over two years for ICT at the Fiona Stanley Hospital (FSH). The ICT program at the FSH was initially granted $249 million.
The FSH was due to open in April 2014, however project delays have seen the hospital’s opening date pushed back to October 2014 and the hospital is now expected to be fully functional by April 2015.
The budget papers say that the additional $40 million “will enable the FSH to better integrate with hospital and health services across the State and permit a more seamless transitioning of patient care as the facility is progressively commissioned in 2015.”
WA Health will also be busy in 2014-15 undertaking projects funded in previous budgets. The agency has total capital funding of $144.2 million for ICT in 2014-15 across new and ongoing initiatives, the largest of which is Perth Children’s Hospital ICT with $94.8 million allocated for the year. In March of this year the agency had four major ICT approaches to market open.
WA Police will receive an allocation of $25.4 million over four years for Computer Aided Dispatch System Replacement.
Budget papers say “This is a critical policing system used throughout Western Australia as the primary means of accepting ‘000’ calls and coordinating, recording and dispatching frontline police resources to respond to criminal and emergency incidents.”
“The new Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system will enable our police officers to respond to 000 calls and crime incidents quickly and deliver a greater level of protection to our community,” said Treasurer Mike Nahan in a statement on the funding.
As with WA Health, WA Police also has substantial funding from previous budgets with $66.4 million across new and existing initiatives which is due to be expended in 2014-15.
The budget also provides new funding of $45 million over four years from Royalties for Regions to improve mobile communications in regional areas. The second stage of the Mobile Communications Project builds on the $40 million first stage of the project which is due for completion in December 2014.
Stage 1 of the project focussed on improving mobile coverage and Stage 2 will focus more on improving broadband accessibility.
“While Stage 2 will provide more deliverables, it will move towards broadband accessibility in regional and remote communities,” said Dr Nahan in a statement.
“The adoption of broadband-enabled services is fundamental to improving the productivity, competitive standing and wellbeing of regional WA.”
Learn more about the implications of the WA Budget for ICT in the State at Intermedium’s 2014-15 Western Australia Budget Briefing: Making the Budget Count for ICT or delve into the detail of the budget allocations with Budget IT.