Defence overhauls ICT spending

Summary:The Department of Defence today released its 2009 ICT strategy paper, outlining how it intends to spend $940 million over four years, instead of $720 million over a decade, to deliver $1.9 billion in savings.

update The Department of Defence today released its 2009 ICT strategy paper, outlining how it intends to spend $940 million over four years, instead of $720 million over a decade, to deliver $1.9 billion in savings.

The $940 million over four years plan announced today differs markedly from another plan released in July this year, in which Defence said it would spend $708 million over 10 years, hoping to deliver the same savings announced today — $1.2 billion over 10 years, followed by $250 million a year thereafter.

A spokesperson for Defence told ZDNet.com.au that the new figure included the $708 million allocated to it as part of Defence's ICT reform plans, adding that the additional funding was for "remediation activities" targeted to its ICT systems.

According to the latest strategic paper, Defence is set to commence a $320 million spending spree — around a third of the $940 million — on ICT hardware over four years to replace "obsolete" technology.

The bulk of funds, however, around $640 million or two thirds of the $940 million price tag, will be spent on recalibrating the management of its ICT systems to aid the development of Defence's ICT holy grail: the Single Defence Information Environment (DIE). The DIE encapsulates four key functions including intelligence, military, corporate and infrastructure.

Defence described its DIE as a desktop set that can move between its different domains, such as Restricted or Secret. Personnel are currently required to use a switching box to move between environments. Defence intends to install video and voice functionality on its desktops too.

It also plans to improve visibility for deployed commanders with its so-called "Common Operating Picture", which forms part of a network warfare strategy that depends on field and equipment sensors.

With a $500 million tender for the overhaul of its personnel and HR systems already released, Defence reported it plans to phase in new automation features for procurement, personnel and pay administration.

Senior reporting structures will also be realigned, with the Coordinating Capability Manager role for the whole of the DIE handed to chief information officer, Greg Farr, who will also head up a new Defence ICT Committee, which will be chaired by the secretary and chief of the Defence Force.

Defence also announced today that its desktop and server support functions, which were outsourced to Unisys early last year, had completed the 18-month transition phase and was considered a successful strategy. The value of that deal is around $240 million over five years.

Defence Minister, John Faulkner, today said Defence's 2009 plan would see it strengthen the relationship between its spend on ICT and Defence's broader objectives.

"Through enhanced strategic planning processes and transparent portfolio-based resource allocation, the ICT Strategy will improve Defence's ability to conduct forward ICT capability planning," Faulkner said.

Topics: Government : AU, Government

About

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, s... Full Bio

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