WA govt is cutting jobs to fund digital transformation

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WA govt is cutting jobs to fund digital transformation

Earmarks millions from public sector shakedown.

The Western Australian government will redirect $71 million in savings achieved through job cuts to digital transformation and frontline service delivery initiatives.

It is one of several savings measures outlined in the McGowan government's first budget to help return the state to operating surplus in 2020-21.

Three thousand public sector redundancies will return $355 million to government coffers over the forward estimates, the budget states, with $71 million to be “retained by participating agencies to invest in workforce renewal, with a focus on digital transformation, frontline services, and the recruitment of entry level employees”.

The government also hopes to claw back $249 million in savings through its service priority review, which is currently assessing the functions, operations and culture of the WA public sector to identify opportunities to better deliver government services through digital platforms.

It has already released an interim report [pdf] detailing initial directions for reform, such as testing the one-stop shop model to improve service delivery, introducing better data sharing arrangements, and building public sector capability in ICT and contract negotiation.

The Office of the Chief Information Officer, which is slated to run out of money at the end of this financial year, has been given no extra funding in this year's budget - it will receive the same $9.2 million annual slice it was provisioned in last year's budget.

The budget notes the office will "cease operations on 30 June 2018" if not given a lifeline by the government in next year’s budget.

Amid the state's difficult fiscal environment, the government has also scraped the barrel to fund technology projects across the portfolios of justice, transport, and resources.

WA Police will receive a rolling package of $10 million annually, including $7 million capital, to replace critical ICT infrastructure over the next four years. Upgrades will cover “crucial core infrastructure that underpins ‘000’ call taking, incident tasking and response, radio communications and information services”.

Elsewhere in the justice portfolio, the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages will receive $2.8 million in 2017-18 to continue working towards the modernisation of the Western Australian registry system, $1.3 million for audio-visual facilities in courts in metropolitan and regional areas, and $3.7 million for other ICT projects.

The Department of Transport will receive $7.1 million over three years to “develop a full scope of system enhancements necessary to support the regulatory functions expected of the department under a fully reformed on-demand transport industry".

The funding will help to "enhance and corporately align the business systems needed for the annual authorisation and oversight of on-demand transport booking and dispatch services, vehicles, drivers and the ongoing education, enforcement and audit of all players in the safety chain of accountability".

Other measures funded in the budget for 2017-18 include:

  • $14 million for Synergy to conduct various IT projects and replace finance and human resources systems.
  • $6.3 million in additional funding to support the deployment of ICT systems at the Perth Children’s Hospital in 2017-18.
  • $3.8 million for the Insurance Commission of Western Australia to replace hardware and software.
  • $3.2 million for the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage to continue implementing a cloud-based workflow management system, and $1.6 million to digitise state land records.
  • $1.98 million for the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety to modernise IT and improve online access to services and information, including online occupational licensing.
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