Budget 2017: Out with the old IT (and in with the new)

Government eyes more whole-of-government IT platforms, data integration project

The government is eyeing upgrades to aging ICT systems across the public sector as well as pushing for platforms that can be used across multiple departments and agencies, and increased use of data analytics to help drive evidence-based policy.

The government will spend $129.6 million on the agency sustainability stream of its Public Service Modernisation Fund, which will support a number of agencies “transition to more modern and sustainable operating models” — including upgrading outdated ICT systems.

The government will also invest $350 million over three years from 2017-18 “in a range of projects to modernise, transform and enhance the productivity” of agencies, including the greater collection and use of government data.

The measures build on the Public Sector Transformation and the Efficiency Dividend, announced in the 2016-17 budget, which increased the standard annual efficiency dividend across government agencies and earmarking $500 million in savings for the Modernisation Fund.

Some $161.5 million from the Modernisation Fund will be focused on the better use of data across government to aid the development and implementation of evidence-based policy: A Data Integration Partnership of Australia “will transform the analysis of public data to improve policy and program implementation and expenditure”.

“Integrating data from across government, and providing access via a single entry point will reduce duplication, encourage efficiency, and lead to long-term reform in data collection and use,” budget documents state.

“Through enhanced data analytics, the Government will be able to design better-targeted and more effective services in education, social services, health and aged care.”

The government said it would also provide funding for the CSIRO to expand the role of its Data61 division.

“This funding will deliver a data integration platform that supports law enforcement and regulatory agencies to better detect, prevent and disrupt illicit activities within Australia and overseas,” budget documents state.

The government’s modernisation push will include emphasising use of cloud and new whole-of-government platforms built by the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) — such as a Federated Data Exchange platform that will mean agencies no long need to build and maintain bespoke point-to-point data exchanges.

Other investments in whole-of-government IT systems include automating records management, redevelopment of CabNet, real-time briefing for ministers, and support for improved budget processes.

The government is planning further consolidation of corporate services, with HR and finance functions and associated IT systems for 60 agencies shifting into one of six corporate service hubs.

Ongoing projects by the DTA include ongoing work on the Digital Marketplace and the new Digital Investment Management Office, announced in February. The DIMO is intended to provide heightened scrutiny of major government technology projects.

The DTA is also pushing ahead with its GovPass project, which will provide a trusted digital identity framework that people can use when they need to access online government services. GovPass will be linked to existing document and facial verification services, the government said. In the future, the government expects to the use of GovPass to be expanded to businesses.

The government will provide $22.7 million in 2017-18 for ongoing work on GovPass, building on $16.8 million coughed up in 2016-17 for work on early trials and business case development.

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