Budget 2015: Human Services and Immigration score big on new IT systems

The Australian Department of Human Services and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection are set to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for new IT systems.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

The Australian government has allocated AU$60.5 million to the Department of Human Services, and AU$143 million to the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) for new IT systems.

Despite Treasurer Joe Hockey stating that the government is projected to lose AU$90 billion in expected tax revenue over the next four years, the government is spending big on IT in this year's Federal Budget.

Aside from the funding already announced for the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the e-Health record system, AU$143 million will be provided to NDIA over four years in this year's Budget to move to a permanent IT system from the interim system set up when the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was in its pilot phase.

The current system is run by the Department of Social Services, and is only designed to support around 30,000 participants. The new IT system to be developed and managed by Human Services will be able to support 460,000 users for case management in 2019-20.

The AU$50.3 million in funding for the interim IT system in the 2012-13 Budget will be redirected to partially fund the new IT system.

Hockey blamed a rise in spending in the third and fourth years directly on the NDIS, which he claimed had not been funded under Labor.

Human Services will also receive AU$60.5 million over four years for the first tranche of the overhaul of its legacy welfare payments system.

The new system will help support swift implementation of government policy changes to welfare payments, the government said.

In the first so-called tranche of the overhaul, Human Services will undertake business planning, scoping, and design work for the new system, while also improving digital services for welfare recipients.

Australian immigration is set to get an IT overhaul, with AU$164.8 million allocated over four years for the design and scoping of new IT platforms for travellers' biometric data and visa information.

The funding will also be used for a trial and rollout of new eGates at major international airports and three seaports.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) will receive AU$3 billion over four years to continue its research operations.

In other government funding measures, a new online portal for business and company registration will be set up with AU$32.4 million in funding. The government plans to publish code to allow developers to build new registration software.

AU$6.7 million will be invested over three years to provide computers, printers, and internet access to children and adults living in 75 remote indigenous communities in Australia. The funding will be redirected from the Indigenous Advancement Strategy.

AU$12.9 million will also be allocated over four years for the Department of Finance to install secure network equipment and secure wireless infrastructure in electorate offices and Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices to connect to the Parliamentary Computing Network.

The government has allocated AU$700,000 in 2015-16 to CrimTrac for the development of its Biometrics Identification Services system business case. The system will eventually replace CrimTrac's automated fingerprint ID system.

The Australian government is also investing in a Central Business Management Platform, but has not released the funding for the platform due to commercial confidentiality reasons.

Trade Minister Andrew Robb also announced plans to develop an "online dashboard portal" for businesses to use to make decisions on how to trade internationally.

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