Comment: So where was the IT budget pain?

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Comment: So where was the IT budget pain?
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A net increase in public servants.

Wayne Swan sold us a 'tough love' budget, with a looming series of cuts to spending and jobs slashed in the public service, but in the wash-up a lot of the hard decisions haven't been made just yet.

There was still plenty of new IT projects funded. And the so-called efficiency dividends appear to have had little impact on overall staffing.

For Budget Paper mavens, we need to go to the less read Budget Paper No. 1. Tucked away in Statement 6 are two tables that reveal the real picture of resourcing.

Table 22 at 6-51 shows that this “tough budget” will see average staffing levels at 262,995 –an increase of 1104 staff over last year’s budget an increase of 0.4 percent across the general government sector.

More likely the painful year has been deferred to next year when the Government has only 12 months left to deliver on its promise to eliminate the deficit by 2012-13. Most economic commentators question whether this will be possible based on what we saw earlier this week.

So where is this year's so-called pain to be shared, then?

According to table C5 at 6-69 to 6-71, the largest cuts in staff fall on Human Services, which drops by 3.7 percent due to the long anticipated merger of Centrelink and Medicare Australia.

Most other agencies did well, including the civilian side of Defence (up 961, despite a reported cull of 1000), Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy, (up 39 on 661) and ACMA (up 28 on 597).     

Cuts in security initiatives

For all the Government's talk on the cyber-security threat,  I was surprised to note that this area that felt a little pain.

The Attorney-General’s Department (lost 39 of its 1,434 staff), the Australian Crime Commission lost 23 of its 570, Customs lost 90 of its 5320, The Office of Public Prosecutions lost 25 of its 539, the Australian Federal Police lost 17 of its 6713 and AUSTRAC lost 22 of its 311.

Little wonder there were no new initiatives regarding IT security in this year’s budget.

Of special interest is the Australian Institute of Criminology – that impartial flagship for evidence-based criminal policy on matters such as copyright infringements and cyber crime - has cut one in three staff (cutting 17 of 59).

What was your reading of the 'tough love' budget? Comment below...

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