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​Department of Finance to get AU$29m IT upgrade

The Department of Finance is working with ASG to deliver a refreshed electronic workplace environment, with a new desktop environment, mail services, laptops, and Surface Pros.

The Department of Finance said it has started working with ASG to roll out a new electronic workplace environment, expected to cost AU$29 million over four years.

During a Senate Estimate hearing on Tuesday, Michael Hirschfeld, Assistant Secretary for portfolio planning, property and construction at the Department of Finance, outlined that it is two months into a six-month program that will see its new electronic workplace environment up and running in full by the start of July, as part of the department's move to a new building.

Hirschfeld said the new electronic workplace environment will "in effect [be] a refresh of our entire IT environment", adding that the use of modern technology will complement the layout of the new building.

"If you imagine -- we are sitting on a platform that was designed some time ago," he said.

As part of the electronic workplace environment, the department will have a new desktop environment, mail services, laptops, and Surface Pros. The department will also begin utilising Microsoft's Sharepoint to share documents.

Hirschfeld told the Senate the implementation of such hardware and software will create collaboration opportunities that currently do not exist "in the way you would expect in the 21st century".

"We will be able to use the collaboration spaces in the building and take a Surface Pro or a laptop from one place in the building into a meeting room or into a collaboration area and connect in that area without losing network connectivity in the building," he said.

According to Hirschfeld, his division, the Information, Technology & Workplace Division, will be the first group to move into the new building and will begin piloting the new environment for two weeks, before the rest of the department of about 800 staff move in. The full deployment will take place in June.

In addition to this, Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (CSC) CEO Peter Carrigy-Ryan said during the hearing that it is working on a long-term IT strategy to address the design of the current superannuation system, which is preventing public servants from rolling over the balance of their government-run superannuation scheme into another scheme.

"We have had a draft of a consultant's report received. We will be looking at that and talking to our board -- and, ultimately, to government -- about that for the longer term technology strategy for the organisation," he said.

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