All the tech news from Budget 2015

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All the tech news from Budget 2015

National security has driven the federal government to dig deep for IT projects in its 2015 budget, with more than $644 million to be ploughed into systems and capabilities deemed critical to Australia's safety over the next four years.

Safety has loomed large in Joe Hockey's second financial plan, including plans to spend:

  • $295.8 million on strengthening Australian Secret Intelligence Service capabilities, focusing on its core IT systems 
  • $164.8 million for IT enhancements within Australia’s border protection agencies 
  • $153.8 million to assist the rollout of the mandatory data retention scheme 
  • $17.6 million for the AFP’s new data centre 
  • $12.9 million upgrading network security for parliamentarians 

The government also backed its commitment to embrace digital service delivery, funding a major rollout of its digital technology agenda.

Its move to e-government has been funded to the tune of $254.7 million over four years.

Health will receive $485.1 million to revive myHealth Record (formerly PCEHR) by moving to a more ambitious opt-out platform.

The budget has also committed a second round of funding to the IT underpinning the national disability insurance scheme, delivering another $143 million for the IT back-end that will see the NDIS through to its full realisation.

The NDIS is currently supported by an interim ICT system managed by the Department of Social Services, which was designed to support around 30,000 participants during the trials only. 

The full scheme ICT system will be developed and managed by the Department of Human Services and will enable the system to support over 460,000 participants and their providers once full NDIS coverage is reached in 2019-20.

The NDIA, the system's operator, will redirect $50.3 million of resourcing provided for the interim system to partially fund the new development.

The Department of Human Services has also revealed the amount of funding it will receive to pay for the first stages of its Centrelink payments engine replacement.

Some $60.5 million has been set aside to progressively replace Centrelink’s ageing technology platform with a new welfare payment system. The full project is forecast to cost in excess of $1 billion.

Carers will be able to access an online gateway system worth $33.7 million that will deliver access to information, support and services.

It will comprise a website, including a service finder similar to that available on the My Aged Care website, and a national call centre to assist carers locate and access services for themselves and for those they care for.

The in-home tele-health trial for veterans has been extended at a cost for $3.7 million for another 18 months to support an evaluation of the trial.

Squeezing savings from IT

The new financial year will also see the government, driven by the Department of Finance, continue the process of consolidating and coordinating its IT spend, and hunting out areas of duplication.

It will expand the mandatory coordinated procurement scheme headed by CTO John Sheridan to non-corporate Commonwealth entities, which were previously exempt. The measure is expected to return an additional $13.7 million to the budget.

It is also hoping for a return of $31.4 million over two years by rationalising the number and types of ERP systems used across the public sector, and by aligning the back office business processes followed by different agencies.

In the Department of Health, IT contractors will be replaced with ongoing staff to contribute to its $113 million savings target.

From this pool, $10 million will be reinvested into developing the in-house analytical, economics and research capacity of the department, including engaging external expertise and developing data links with other government agencies as necessary.

Plans to extend GST to digital downloads from overseas suppliers from 1 July 2017 are estimated to add $350 million worth of revenue to the budget over the forward estimates period.

In brief: big spends

  • A multimillion top-up to redevelop the central budget management system 
  • $485.1 million for an opt-out MyHealth Record system
  • $295.8 million to strengthen ASIS IT capabilities
  • $254.7 million towards the implementation of the digital transformation agenda
  • $234.7 million for the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ business transformation
  • $164.8 million to strengthen and enhance Australia’s border protection services
  • $153.8 million for the data retention regime
  • $143.0 million for National Disability Insurance Agency's new ICT system
  • $130.9 million for digital services at the Australian Tax Office, including a verson of myTax that can cope with complex tax affairs
  • $60.5 million for the first stages of Centrelink's $1 billion payments system replacement
  • $33.7 million for a national gateway for carer support
  • $32.4 million for streamlining business registration
  • $17.6 million for a new Australian Federal Police data centre 
  • $12.9 million for IT security enhancements for parliamentarians
  • $10.2 million for an Australian organ matching system
  • $10.0 million to develop Health's in-house analytical, economics and research capacity
  • $7.8 million to support crowd-sourced equity funding for public companies
  • $3.7 million to extend a trial for in-home telehealth for veterans
  • $3.1 million for 'smart-technology' applications allowing users to virtually experience the Western Front and the legacy of Sir John Monash
  • $1.7 million to fund the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner in 2015-16
  • $1.5 million to continue the ANZAC portal
  • $0.7 million to to fund a business case for the replacement of  CrimTrac’s national automated fingerprint identification system

Big savings    

  • $1.7 billion from chasing welfare fraud, driven by new IT capabiltiies
  • $350 million in new GST revenue from to digital products and services imported by consumers
  • $120 million in agency savings directed to the digital transformation agenda
  • $55.1 million, some of which will come from dumping cheque payments at the DHS
  • $31.4 million from rationalising whole-of-governent ERP systems
  • $13.7 million extending whole-of-government procurement arrangements 
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