Budget 2004: Special report

Public and private sector CIO eyes will be on Canberra over the next 48 hours as Treasurer Peter Costello presents what is tipped to be the biggest-spending budget in Australian economic history.

While the government has previewed many of the social highlights of the budget and plans to disperse a $9 billion dollar pre-election war chest, no details have been released on what increases or cutbacks it intends to make to IT expenditure.

Details of expenditure on critical ICT infrastructure and services remain tightly guarded until this evening.

Some of the many funding changes currently rumoured include:

Definitive funding for the Australian Government Information Management Office and secretariat.

Strongly bolstered funding for protection of National Information Infrastructure (NII) and cyber security including increased funding to both law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

Increased funding to roll out high-capacity wireless and broadband services to regional areas.

Increased funding for the Australian Customs Service to bring its trouble-plagued Integrated Cargo System transactional hub online by next year.

Funding for biometric security initiatives for both government employees and passports.

The possible amalgamation of the Australian Communications Authority and the Australian Broadcast Authority to better reflect the current digital communications environment.

Substantial funding increases for e-government initiatives, particularly IT architecture and infrastructure renewal, channel management across whole of government with a strong focus on common transactional and communication standards.

Substantial funding increases for the Australian Communications Authority (ACA) and the Office of the Information Economy (OIE) to fight spam.

Possible formation of an umbrella group to fund and coordinate cooperative research centres and integrate these with other current ICT research and development activities.

Regional telecommunication subsidies and incentives to facilitate the so-far frustrated sale of Telstra.

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