Health and Police boost IT budgets in the West

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Health and Police boost IT budgets in the West
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But efficiency dividends and deferred CapEx make savings.

The Western Australian Government has boosted health and policing IT investments under its latest state budget, while continuing to squeeze other parts of the public sector.

In budget papers released late yesterday, the Government allocated $151 million over three years (including $60 million in 2012-13) to priority projects for Fiona Stanley Hospital and Albany Health Campus.

The projects include the ongoing statewide Patient Administration System being developed under an eHealth reform program of work.

The system is designed to assist with patient flow management, scheduling, ambulatory care, admission discharge transfer, patient indexing and billing, clinical coding, and information management.

Policing and law enforcement also receive a boost in the state budget with a variety of new projects receiving funding.

The Government allocated $67 million over four years ($23 million this year) to digital regional radio communications network to aid community safety. The network will interoperate with the Western Australia Police, Department of Corrective Services and the Fire and Emergency Services Authority. 

Another $42.5 million has been given to WA Police for a major ICT infrastructure replacement and continuity program, to occur over four years.

And $6.2 million has been set aside for a GPS-based system that can electronically tag dangerous sex offenders.

The technology will provide the ability to locate and track offenders and provide improved responses to breaches of strict release conditions, the Government said.

Self-funding agency spend

The budget papers also reveal that self-funding agencies - such as energy, gambling and insurance - are also investing in new IT infrastructure.

Racing and Wagering WA has budgeted $129 million over the next four years for projects, including a $3.5m computer refresh, $2.5m to upgrade its Bet Engine, $2.7m for a software refresh and $1.1m for a website refresh.

Energy firm Synergy has budgeted $27.2 million over four years for its customer information and billing systems, product development and enhancement, and maintenance of its standalone IT environment.

Horizon Power has $13.7 million for IT and business system upgrades, including geographic information systems development.

The Insurance Commission of WA has budgeted $13.4 million to replace and refresh ageing infrastructure and software to enhance and extend the life of existing business systems.

Staying in surplus

To maintain a surplus of $196 million for 2012-13, WA Treasurer Christian Porter said his Government’s savings initiatives would total some $4.9 billion over four years, including:

  • an efficiency dividend to be applied to public sector agencies from 2012-13, starting at two percent for all departments (one per cent for Education), with additional one percent dividends to be achieved in each of the three financial years to 2015-16.
  • a further efficiency dividend for Government Trading Enterprises to be measured as a percentage of discretionary spending, starting at 2.5 percent in 2012-13 with an additional 1.5 percent in 2013-14, 1.5 percent in 2014-15 and 0.5 percent in 2015-16.
  • a two-year cap on growth in the number of public sector workers to further control public sector salaries expenses. (All departments have to operate for the next two financial years inside their FTE cap as it was set in 2011-12. This does not apply to operational staff in health, education or police).
  • a formal policy limiting general government sector FTE growth to 1.5 percent a year in 2014-15 and 2015-16; and
  • deferral of (unquantified) spending on a range of capital works projects across a number of agencies.
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