The Queensland government will put off all non-essential new IT projects for at least six months, as the state grapples with the effect of the coronavirus pandemic.
Treasurer Cameron Dick revealed the “six-month hold” on Thursday as part of a raft of saving measures aimed at redirecting $3 billion into the state coffers over the next three years.
The decision follows a string of IT project blunders in the state in recent years, with Queensland Health’s $64 million pathology system overhaul the latest to cease.
In response to questions about the government's definition of non-essential, chief customer and digital officer Chris Fechner told iTnews he would work with agencies to guide IT investment.
“I will be working with all departments to guide investment in essential ICT projects that directly support the State’s key priorities of creating jobs, building essential infrastructure or delivering front-line services to Queenslanders,” he said.
“The safety and security of Queenslanders and their data will be a key consideration behind any new ICT investment considered for endorsement over the next six months.”
The government also plans to “reduce the use of external consultancies and contractors” as part of the savings drive “with a view to ending arrangements where possible”.
Another savings measure will see the government consolidate “underutilised government social media accounts” and “eliminate program replication across agencies”.
While the government has committed to maintaining public service roles at 1 July levels for 12 months, it will only fill “non-frontline roles” using internal recruitment, while also reducing SES roles.
Dick said the measures would deliver significant savings without the need to cut services, lay off staff or sell assets as the “economic turmoil unleashed by COVID-19 continues”.
He said the all decision had been guided by the government’s desire to prioritise jobs, building essential infrastructure and delivering frontline services.
“That’s why I am announcing a range of savings measures that will aim to prioritise functions and, together with the public service wage freeze, enable a savings target of $3 billion over four years,” Dick said.
“Through prudent savings measures, responsible borrowing and our relentless focus on creating and supporting jobs, the Palaszczuk Government will ensure we can Unite and Recover to enable Queensland’s continued resurgence in a post-COVID world.”