A-ZGovBIZ Budget Wrapup
18th May, 2009
Pete Ross, Senior Government Analyst
Overwhelmed by all the raft of news that came out of an whirlwind Budget Week? We have summarised the news that you, a government vendor, need to know.
The Department of Defence, the largest federal agency, has been set a hardline target of saving $20 billion, with most of it to come from its IT dollar. Expected cutbacks will include centralisation of support services and consolidation of data centres. The Department's CIO, Greg Farr, has, however, suggested that expenditure will remain on the books, and that he would be targeting legacy systems highlighted in the Gershon review.
The federal Department of Immigration and Citizenship is initiating one last push for the completion of their Infotech "Systems for People" project. $450 million has been spent on this project already, and $33 million will be allocated to finalise it by the end of FYE10. DIAC will be looking to cut its IT spend after this program and focus on efficiency savings. There will, however, be a cash injection for IT maintenance.
In other budgetary news;
- The National Broadband Network has been allocated a detailed package of funding, totalling $4.7 billion.
- $3 billion has been allocated to upgrade hospitals, particularly cancer facilities.
- Centrelink, another of the biggest Federal agencies, has conceived a project to combat fraud, with $43 million funding.
- Railways are to receive a windfall of over $4 billion across Melbourne, Adelaide and the Gold Coast.
- The tertiary education sector will see $2.6 billion slated for development of infrastructure, focussed around science and research.
In the days following the Federal Budget, the States and Territories also put out their priorities for the next financial year.
A priority for the ACT government is e-Health. Health Minister Katy Gallagher said in a statement that $90 million would be given over to drive a reform agenda centralised around IT in health.
"The ACT government's commitment to a $1 billion rebuild of our health system requires next generation digital infrastructure," she said.
Victoria's IT agenda was reinforced with $100 million of funding. Programs included support and on-costs for computers supplied under the Digital Education Revolution, new ICT centres in schools, upgrades to telecomms for agencies involved in natural disaster management, and IT upgrades in TAFE.
Also in state news, the government of Tasmania has announced the wrapping-up of a IT hardware shared purchasing agreement. 13 resellers will resell hardware from a round dozen manufacturers. The agreement is not binding on any agencies, but is optional to use for individual state or local government agencies in Tasmania.
Western Australian Local Government Association president Bill Mitchell has welcomed the inclusion of $6.5 million of funding for roads in his state.
"It is encouraging that some effort has been made to ensure that key infrastructure in local roads is not overlooked," he said.
New South Wales Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell has claimed that his state received a deficient share of budget funding because of Premier Nathan Rees' allegedly poor relationship with the Federal Government.
"Even the Western Australian Liberal government fared better than the NSW Labor government," said Mr O'Farrell.
Coinciding with the budget was the seminal CeBIT infotech exhibition and conference in Sydney. Several high-profile government executives spoke at this exhibition.
NSW Premier Nathan Rees has declared a firm intention to vie for the headquarters of the National Broadband Network. Opening the conference in Sydney, Rees stated that Sydney was a natural choice for the NBN HQ. "We've got by far the largest number of IT suppliers, and software developers and so on."
He faces stiff competition from other states, however. "We are already known as the nation's telecommunications hub," said the Victorian Treasurer, John Lenders.
Queensland's Premier, Anna Bligh, also weighed in last week. "Optus is in Sydney, Telstra in Melbourne, why not NBN Corp in Brisbane?" she said.
The Federal Government's IT office, AGIMO, has indicated a sterner determination to implement the recommendations of the Gershon report. John Sheridan, manager of the Business Improvement Division of AGIMO, spoke at CeBIT and claimed his organisation would be slashing $1 billion from the Government's IT spend before 2013.
The head of AGIMO, Ann Steward, also spoke. Her speech focussed on commitment to continuing post-Gershon projects, finding savings in business-as-usual activities and reinvesting those savings to expand capability.