Gov to spend another $161m on digital identity system

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Gov to spend another $161m on digital identity system

Part of $252.5m digital economy package in MYEFO 2021.

The federal government will spend another $161 million on its federated digital identity system over the next two years, bringing total investment since 2015 to more than $600 million.

The new funding, revealed in the 2020-21 mid-year economic and fiscal outlook - abbreviated to MYEFO - [pdf] on Thursday, will allow the government to continue the program, known as GovPass, until at least 2024-25.

The investment forms part of a $252.5 million digital economy package, which builds on the $1.2 billion over six years the government put towards the digital economy strategy in the May federal budget.

The new funding for the federated digital identity system will be provided between the 2022-23 and 2024-25 financial years to “improve online access to government services and payments”.

It follows the government’s $256.6 million investment in the digital identity system in the 2020 budget and $67.1 million investment in the 2019 budget, and comes at a time when it is planning on having all online services available online by 2025.

With the new funding in the 2021 MYEFO, the government will have spent more than $600 million on the digital identity system by the end of the 2024-25 financial year.

The government is hoping to claw back at least some of its investment when it introduces a charging model as part of its planned expansion to state and territory government and the private sector.

More than 6 million people, including 1.3 million businesses, now have a government-offered myGovID digital identity credential, which is provided by the Australian Taxation Office.

Digital economy package

In addition to funding for digital identity, the digital economy funding package also contains $111 million over 12 years for quantum computing.

As announced last month, the government plans to establish a Quantum Commercialisation Hub at a cost of $70 million and a national quantum strategy.

Quantum computing is one of nine critical technologies that the government has deemed of immediate national interest to Australia.

Funding will also flow to projects revealed in Australia’s first-ever data strategy this week, namely $2.8 million for the Australian Bureau of Statistics to scope enhancements to data.gov.au.

The government intends to transform data.gov.au into a ‘one-stop shop’ for open data by the end of 2022.

The Office of the National Data Commissioner will also receive $27.1 million over four years to “improve sharing and promote the greater use of public sector data”.

Other new digital strategy initiatives include:

  • $22.6 million over four years for a second round of the Australian 5G innovation initiative, which supports private sector investment in 5G testbeds and trials
  • $6.2 million in the form of a concessional loan for the Australian Energy Market Operator to build IT systems in 2021-22 to share data through the consumer data right.
  • $1.8 million over two years to ensure Victorian energy reference data is available through the consumer data right

More projects

Elsewhere in MYEFO, Geoscience Australia will received an additional $521.8 million over 20 years to deliver the satellite based augmentation system (SBAS) first funded in the 2018 federal budget.

SBAS is a GPS augmentation project that will boost satellite positioning capability from the currently five to 10 metres to around 10 centimetres in Australia and its maritime zones.

The project also received $78.7 million in last year’s MYEFO, as well as $180.9 million over 11 years from 2024-25.

The Department of Health will receive $154 million over two years to replace the aged care IT system, allowing providers to exchange data with government in near real-time.

The funding will also be used to “begin work on an ICT system to support a new in-home care program”.

MYEFO also provides $169.6 million for the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) to upgrade the national automated fingerprint identification system (NAFIS).

As reported by iTnews this week, the ACIC has signed an agreement with incumbent NAFIS provider IDEMIA to enhance the system, including by shifting the system to a protected cloud platform.

ACIC has entered three separate contracts with IDEMIA worth $180 million to upgrade and support what it is calling NAFIS NextGen until at least 2034.

NAFIS NextGen comes three years after ACIC was forced to dump its former NAFIS replacement project known as the biometrics identification solution (BIS) project.

Other new iniattives contained in the MYEFO include:

  • $42.2 million over two years for the Australian Taxation Office to strengthen its capabilities in “data matching and pre-filling taxpayers’ tax returns through myGov”
  • $58.8 million over four years for the Digital Transformation Agency to provide enhanced digital and IT oversight and advice, as well as $17.5 million each year after that
  • $37 million over four years for the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment to perform digital upgrades to improve biosecurity clearance processes and facilitate trade
  • $17.3 million over two years from 2022-23 for the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) to develop and update the international student provider registration system
  • $15.5 million over four years for the Australian Electoral Commission to strengthen the integrity of the electoral system, including by “improving assurance of computer systems and processed used to capture and count votes”
  • $10.2 million over four years for DESE to create an education, skills and employment data asset, which will provide comprehensive workforce, skills and labor market information
  • $10.2 million over four years for the Department of Finance to support “cloud-based environments as a communications enabler for government agencies”
  • An undisclosed amount of additional funding to digitise the paper-based incoming passenger card, a deal that Accenture scored at a cost of $60 million earlier this year
  • $3.7 million in 2021-22 for the Attorney-General’s Department to pilot a case management system – the first step in developing a single case management system for the Administrative Appeals Tribunal
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