Govt earmarks $2.4bn for tech infrastructure

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Govt earmarks $2.4bn for tech infrastructure

All the tech in the 2018 federal budget.

The government has unveiled plans to invest more than $2.4 billion into "Australia's public technology infrastructure".

Treasurer Scott Morrison said that the $2.4 billion investment would be put towards "supercomputers, world class satellite imagery, more accurate GPS across Australia, upgrading the Bureau of Meteorology's technology platform, a national space agency and leading research in artificial intelligence".

However, these projects appeared to be worth only around $400 million of the total investment:

  • $160.9 million for a satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS), as well as ongoing funding of $39.2 million from 2022-23. A number of trials of the technology are already underway, including with automated vehicles in Victoria and precise plane guidance into regional airports.
  • $70 million for new high-performance compute infrastructure at the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre, which was announced pre-Budget.
  • $64 million for the National Positioning Infrastructure Capability (NPIC), which can be used for "virtual fencing for farms and better management of cattle and livestock over vast distances".
  • $41 million to build Australia's space industry sector, including $26 million to create a space agency.
  • $36.9 million for the previously announced Digital Earth Australia initiative, which will “give business greater access to reliable, standardised satellite data that identifies physical changes to the Australian environment”.
  • $29.9 million for the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, CSIRO and Department of Education to strengthen Australia’s capability in AI and machine learning.

​The $2.4 billion also covers a fresh allocation for the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) to continue security and resiliency upgrades following a 2015 security incident.

BoM will embark on "tranche two" of a project to bring "improved security and resilience" to the agency's IT systems, thought little else was said and the amount of investment - like last year - was officially listed as being "not for publication".

However, "the investment will be partially offset by ceasing planned expenditure on the Bureau’s ICT capital projects which are no longer required due to the broader investment in the Bureau’s ICT,” budget documents state.

The lion's share of the $2.4 billion - around $1.9 billion - is set to be put into "Australia’s national research infrastructure over 12 years from 2017-18".

"Technological breakthroughs [like] wi-fi ... have roots in our globally recognised research infrastructure," Minister for Jobs and Innovation Michaelia Cash said in a statement.

"This funding will ensure ground-breaking research continues and that researchers and industry have greater access to cutting-edge facilities."

Existing IT projects land more money

The budget also included funding for a range of IT projects already underway, including:

The Digital Transformation Agency landed $92.4 million this year to “accelerate” the delivery of its GovPass digital identity platform.

The new funding adds to the government’s already significant investment of more than $30 million in the GovPass project, which remains in private beta after two years of development.

About $26 million of the new GovPass funds will go to the ATO's pilot of the platform with its new tax file application service. The Department of Human Services will also take $5.6 million, most likely for the integration of the platform into myGov.

In addition, the Department of Veterans Affairs scored $111.9 million for "critical" upgrades to about 80 business systems. It had been sweating on the allocation for a number of months.

However, as much as $69.3 million of the new money is to be usurped by the Department of Human Services.

The full list of IT projects

  • $316.2 million: DHS Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation tranche three
  • $111.9 million: Veteran Centric Reform project continuation
  • $106.8 million: To modernise Medicare payments system
  • $100 million for a health innovation fund in 2018-19 and 2020-21 that will fund preventative health innovation and better use of data
  • $92.4 million: "Accelerated implementation” of GovPass
  • $70 million for the upgrade of the Pawsey supercomputing facility, as announced ahead of the budget
  • $65.1 million: Data sharing and consumer data right implementation (announced before Budget)
  • $59.1 million to fund the full rollout of a new national criminal intelligence system.
  • $36.2 million for DHS and the Department of eduction to deliver a new IT system that will support the compliance requirements of the VET student loans program
  • $30 million: for the Australian Health Institute of Health and Welfare to improve access to health data through IT upgrades and better data sharing capabilities
  • $29.9 million: for the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, CSIRO and Department of Education to strengthen Australia’s capability in AI and machine learning
  • $19.3 million: to develop a business case for a single business register
  • $15.8 million: additional funding for the Australian Bureau of Statistics to continue its statistical business transformation program
  • $15 million: for ATO's Single Touch Payroll project
  • $14.4 million to provide cyber security support to Papua New Guinea for the 2018 APEC Summit
  • $14.2 million: to support the Office of the eSafety Commissioner as it expands its focus to online safety for all Australians, not just children
  • $12.2 million: to trial a program that will deliver digital employment services to as many as 10,000 job seekers
  • $11 million: ATO's excise systems upgrade - to "modernise its excise and excise equivalent goods payment systems beginning 2020-21 to replace [an] outdated paper lodgement system"
  • $11 million: for the Department of Finance to drive productivity improvements across the public service, including tapping into the New Payments Platform
  • $10.5 million: to transform Australia’s trade supply chain, initially through a business case for a ‘single digital window’
  • $10.1 million: for Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) to support its ICT systems and digitise its most important and frequently used paper files, as it moves to Armidale
  • $9 million: for the Department of Parliamentary Services to create a cyber security operations centre to improve protection for parliament’s computing network
  • $5 million: for the development of a national digital baby book
  • $2.9 million: for CASA to manage safety standards and compliance for the recreation and commercial use of drones
  • $700,000: for DTA investigation into blockchain technology
  • Unknown: Improved data analytics to identify black economy and phoenix payments
  • Unknown: Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ trial of “innovative technologies to achieve efficiencies in the biosecurity clearance of freight and passengers"
  • Unknown: Tranche two of the Bureau of Meteorology's security and resiliency upgrade program
  • Unknown: Contribution to the undersea cable build between Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands
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