Govt CIO praises budget's $1bn IT investment

Summary:Despite a tighter 2012-13 Federal Budget, the government's chief information officer Ann Steward has said that IT is still an important part of government spending, accounting for $1 billion in the Budget.

Despite a tighter 2012-13 Federal Budget, the government's chief information officer Ann Steward has said that IT is still an important part of government spending, accounting for $1 billion in the Budget.

Ann Steward speaking at CeBIT in 2011.
(Credit: Josh Taylor/ZDNet Australia)

Even though the government pushed for a budget surplus of $1.5 billion in 2012-13, it set aside $233.7 million in funding for the launch of e-health records, $240 million for the IT systems for the government's National Disability Insurance Scheme and ongoing funding for the National Broadband Network, with a smattering of IT funding spread across a number of government agencies.

Speaking at the CeBIT 2012 conference in Sydney this morning, Steward pointed out that "even in tough times", the government is ploughing $1 billion into IT.

"It's spread around 40-odd proposals, a variety of work, particularly around some of the signature initiatives of the government," she said. The $1 billion in new spending is being added to the government's $5 billion in existing annual expenditure on IT.

"It has maintained the strength of the importance of IT in government programs."

Steward said that expenditure in ICT has remained stable over the last few years, although ICT operating expenditure as a proportion of total operating expenditure has actually declined from 5.2 per cent to 4.7 per cent. She said that importantly, 34 per cent of the ICT expenditure is being spent on new projects.

A quarter of expenditure is spent on internal staff, with total money spent on employees totalling 40 per cent of expenditure. Of the new investment, she said that roughly a third of expenditure is spent on applications.

Through the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) and its move to whole-of-government panels and licensing deals, the government has made hundreds of millions of dollars worth of savings already, Steward said. She pointed to the licensing and sourcing deal that the government struck with Microsoft in 2009.

"Since 2009, in terms of the agreement that we have struck with Microsoft, agencies have been able to save over $90 million over the period of 2008-09 to the period of 2012-13 — $90 million that would have been forgone without this collaborative and coordinated effort."

From the desktop hardware and services buying arrangement, the government will save a total of $16 million between 2010 and 2014, she said, with a much better deal secured on cost.

"We know prior to actually setting these in place, the Australian Government was paying 56 per cent more than the Australian average for this same equipment and services. We're now paying 55 per cent less," Steward said.

The Federal Government's secure internet gateway program, designed to secure government operations, will also deliver $25 million in savings by 2014, and internet-based network connections will deliver savings of $50 million.

Steward also highlighted the benefit of becoming a vendor on the whole-of-government supply panels, saying that since the establishment of various whole-of-government panels for IT purchasing, including the datacentre-as-a-service panel, $500 million worth of contracts have been signed.

Topics: CXO, Government, Government : AU


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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