Rationalisation, consolidation and compliance measures have dominated the 2013 IT budget, with a side of innovation thrown in.
Some $68.4 million over four years will be saved through “better procurement pricing outcomes for public sector agencies”.
This measure expands the Government's online procurement system (AusTender) to support agencies' online tendering and purchasing activities associated with panels and multi-use lists, including co-operative arrangements.
It will reduce the contract management overheads for suppliers and government in undertaking these procurements, and in turn lead to improved supplier pricing.
Funding for implementation includes operating funding of $2.8 million over four years, and capital funding of $3.8 million in 2013-14 and $3.7 million in 2014-15.
There will also be a single federal grants system. Estimated to cost some $9.1 million over four years (including operating funding of $3.6 million over four years) a new web-based whole-of-government electronic grants advertising, application and reporting system will be rolled out for use by agencies and grant applicants as a single point of reference.
Game on for ERP providers
Some $2.8 million over two years has been provided for a detailed study of the costs and benefits of rationalising the number and type of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems used in the Australian Public Service.
Coincidentally, the budget also provides $2.2 million over two years for the development of a second pass business case for an ERP system to improve the management of information across AusAID. However AusAID will have to fund this from its own resources.
New measures to improve tax compliance, especially from profit shifting multinationals, have also received the go-ahead. The measures are estimated to deliver a gain to revenue of $1.5 billion over the forward estimates period.
Ovum public sector research director Kevin Noonan said on balance the budget looked good for IT.
"There are a number of substantial initiatives, while the saving measures are based this time on some clear rationale.
"The budget certainly provides industry with something to think about.”
Australia stands to save $4.5 million over three years from the cyber-safety enhancement program by not proceeding with mandatory filtering legislation.
Instead, Australia's major Internet Service Providers will be required to block child abuse websites on the INTERPOL 'worst of' child abuse list, in accordance with their obligations under the Telecommunications Act 1997.
As previously announced, the Government will reduce support for research and development (R&D) by limiting access to the R&D tax incentive so that it only applies to companies with annual aggregate Australian turnover of less than $20 billion. This measure is estimated to have a gain to revenue of $1.1 billion over the forward estimates period.
Savings of $62.4 million are expected to be delivered over five years as a result of the Department of Human Services (DHS) introducing a range of process improvements and targeted communication strategies. This includes Electronic Funds Transfers to general practitioners and specialists when making pay-doctor-via-claimant payments, and increasing the rate of online transactions undertaken by Youth Allowance and Austudy recipients. The Government will provide DHS with $4.9 million over five years to implement this measure.
Some $31.2 million will be saved over two years by ceasing funding for the National Health Information Network (NHIN) from 1 July 2015.
The Government will also better target work-related self-education expense deductions through an annual $2000 cap on these expenses from 1 July 2014. This measure is estimated to provide savings to the Budget of $514.3 million over the forward estimates period.
Funding of $238.4 million has been assigned over five years to establish five previously announced Industry Innovation Precincts including creation of an internet-based Industry Innovation Network to connect geographically dispersed precinct members by providing a platform for sharing information, knowledge, support and services.
Other major initiatives include:
- $215.9 million between 2012-13 and 2018-19 for an upgrade of Australia's International Communications Network (ICN) operated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
- $154.0 million over four years in supplementary funding to Geoscience Australia to support priority activity, pre-competitive information, with the remaining funding allocated to custodianship of geographic and geological data, the operation of the Australian Tsunami Warning System, and groundwater research and information services.
- $80.2 million over the forward estimates period to the Australian Taxation Office and the Department of Finance and Deregulation to strengthen upfront checks for issuing Australian Business Numbers and encourage the use of AUSkey, a secure credential for accessing online services of the Australian Business Register.
- $77.8 million over four years to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to improve compliance and provide a level playing field for Australian taxpayers by expanding data matching with third party information. This measure is estimated to have a gain to revenue of $610.2 million over the forward estimates period. In underlying cash terms, the estimated increase in receipts is $431.7 million.
- $68.0 million for the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) expedited from 2016-17 to the years 2013-14 to 2015-16 to enable the ABS to transition to a new model that will include increased emphasis on e-census collection and postal distribution of census material, with resulting savings in the census year.
- $30.0 million over two years to improve the ability of the Department of Human Services to meet customer demand for call centre services and reduce waiting times.
- $27.7 million over four years (including $1.7 million in capital funding in 2013-14) to implement a package of improvements to Australia's anti-dumping and countervailing system enhancing IT systems.
- $19.3 million over five years (including capital funding of $4.2 million in 2012-13 and $3.3 million in 2013-14) to increase the size of the National Telepresence System which connects Commonwealth offices around the country, with further links to State and Territory facilities.
- $16.1 million over four years (including $8.2 million in capital funding in 2013-14) to the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) for the establishment of a new data centre.
- $14.4 million over four years will support the implementation of a nationally consistent data collection model for school students with a disability.
- $9.1 million for the Australian Ballistics Identification Network (ABIN) to enhance police investigations into firearms crimes. The ABIN uses “advanced technology” to analyse firearms seized from criminals to build a database of all weapons used in crime and recovered by police, in every State and Territory. This information is aimed at improving intelligence capability and enhance police targeting and compliance activities.
- $8.4 million over 2013-14 and 2014-15 (including $4.5 million in capital funding) to trial automated border processing technology and procedures for departures from Australian airports. The trial will focus on trans-Tasman travellers.
- $7.8 million over two years to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to improve its client contact centre service levels to support the introduction of the online National Business Names registration system. This funding includes $1.6 million in capital in 2013-14 to upgrade ASIC's call centre infrastructure.
- $4.0 million in 2012-13 to support Vodafone Hutchison Australia to expand its call centre operations at Kingston in Tasmania, creating 750 new customer service jobs. The expansion will more than double employment at the Kingston call centre, which currently employs over 680 people.
- $2.1 million to the Australian Bureau of Statistics to develop a second pass business case for a major statistical infrastructure and business process reengineering project.
- $220,000 in 2013-14 to support regional firms and jobs at the Acacia Park Industrial Estate Armidale, New South Wales. Funding will help meet the cost of extending fibre technology to the Acacia Park Industrial Estate, Armidale.
- $42,500 in 2013-14 to develop a business case (Gateway Review) to examine potential reforms and hosting arrangements for the Child Care Management System (CCMS).
Supporting the NBN
- $12.9 million to connect more local councils to the NBN and provide training for small business and not-for-profits in 20 regional NBN rollout sites.
- $9.9 million over four years to upgrade Broadband for Seniors kiosks.
$7.2 million over three years to improve the capacity of small businesses and not-for-profit organisations to engage in the digital economy and take advantage of the National Broadband Network (NBN).
$6.5 million over three years from 2013-14 to continue, in partnership with the States and Territories, the provision of access to internet services and computer training for remote Indigenous communities.
$2.4 million in 2013-14 (including $0.2 million in capital funding) to maintain the existing capacity of the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy to provide shareholder and policy support during the National Broadband Network rollout.
Online and digital
- $30.0 million over three years (including $1.5 million in capital funding in 2013-14) to maintain and expand the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC) online services.
- $20.0 million over three years from 2012-13 to Screen Australia to establish and administer an Australian Interactive Games Fund to help support the development of the interactive video gaming industry in Australia.
- $19.2 million to extend the Enterprise Connect program to the Transport and Logistics, Information Communication and Technology, and Professional Services sectors.
- $12.1 million over four years to establish a national patient contact register for implantable devices, and two clinical quality registers for breast implants and cardiac devices.
- $6.8 million over four years ($1.7 million in 2013-14, $3.1 million in 2014-15, $1.7 million in 2015-16 and $0.3 million in 2016-17) to design, develop and implement a consumer energy data system.
- $10.0 million over two years to deliver a national communications campaign for Medicare including a website to provide detailed information to consumers and health professionals.
- $5.2 million over two years (including $0.2 million in capital funding) to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) for the continued production of annual input-output data tables. The tables are part of the Australian national accounts and provide detailed information about the way that different sectors of the Australian economy interact.
- $1.4 million over four years to provide for a single, online registration for financial advisors registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission that also need to be registered with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) as tax advisors from 30 June 2013.
- $1.4 million over four years to enable the Bureau of Meteorology to host commercial advertising on its website on an ongoing basis. This measure follows the previously announced advertising trial.
A few initiatives announced had to be funded from within agency funds including a Tax System Advisory Board within the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to strategic direction, culture, organisation, management, compliance planning, staff profile and information technology plans at the ATO.
- $14.2 million will be spent over four years from 2013-14 to allow the Australian Research Council (ARC) to improve and upgrade its Information and Communications Technology (ICT) systems.
- The cost of the Government’s multi-agency Australian Cyber Security Centre will be met from within the existing resources of contributing agencies.
- Enhancement of the MyChild website.
- Child Support System (Cuba) in the Department of Human Services (DHS) will be replaced with a new system to begin operating from December 2015.
- The Department of Human Services will develop a first pass business case to identify options for the upgrade or replacement of the Income Security Integrated System (ISIS), to be completed in 2015.