WA budget pulls $110m out of IT spending

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WA budget pulls $110m out of IT spending

Education and Police hardest hit by tech savings drive.

The Western Australian government has kicked off a $110 million campaign to curtail the IT spend of 16 of the state’s tech-hungriest agencies over four years.

The Colin Barnett-led Liberal party announced in its mid-year budget update that it would seek a 15 percent savings dividend from those agencies with “historically high expenditure on ICT-related services” with the intent of redirecting $25 million - or less than one quarter - of the recouped funds into an ICT Renewal and Reform fund.

Yesterday’s state budget revealed exactly what this program means for the hardest hit agencies.

The state’s Department of Education will feel the deepest cuts. Budget papers show it will be expected to save nearly $38 million over the forward estimates from its IT expenditure.

The WA Police will need to find $25.4 million over the four-year period.

Other agencies affected include:

  • Public Transport Authority - $14.1 million savings,
  • Attorney General’s Department - $8.7 million savings,
  • Commissioner for Main Roads - $7.3 million savings,
  • Department of Finance - $4.9 million savings.

The government has promised $25 million of the savings will be reinvested into “developing more efficient and innovative ICT solutions”.

But shadow Commerce Minister Kate Doust accused the government of hiding cost cutting behind a false veneer of reform.

"This 'ICT savings and reform scheme' is just code for cutting back on IT expenses," she said.

"The Barnett government still has no plan for ICT for WA.

"I doubt we will see a more efficient and transparent government as a result of these cuts."

One of the first outlets for the ICT Renewal and Reform Fund money will be paying for the operation of a soon-to-be established Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, which is due to start in July. WA’s first ever GCIO will be charged with putting together a whole-of-government ICT plan for the state, which has had a chequered past when it comes to technology.

The operation of the office is forecast to draw $2.7 million per year for three years, or a total of $8.1 million from the ICT Renewal and Reform fund. It will operate under the Department of Finance.

The state government has yet to settle on a permanent appointment to the GCIO role.

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