Budget 2018: APS to use New Payments Platform

The Department of Finance has been given AU$11 million in funding to boost productivity across the APS, including by modernising Commonwealth cash management via use of the NPP.

The Australian Public Service (APS) is slated to utilise Australia's New Payments Platform (NPP), the government's 2018-19 Budget documents have stated.

The Australian government has provided AU$11.3 million over two years for the Department of Finance to boost its "capacity to respond to critical priorities and drive productivity improvements across the Australian Public Service".

"This includes modernising Commonwealth cash management by utilising the New Payments Platform for fast payments, which is being rolled out across the banking system in Australia," the Budget documents said.

Funding of AU$1.3 million for this measure has already been provided for by the government, with AU$5 million then being provided in 2018-19 and AU$5 million in 2019-20.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had last week announced a review of the APS to look into whether Australia's government departments are "equipped to engage with the key policy, service delivery, and regulatory issues of the day" in the face of digitisation.

"The APS has a long history advising successive Australian governments and serving the Australian people well, but a range of global, technological, and public policy developments are transforming our economy and our society, presenting both opportunities and challenges," Turnbull said on Friday.

"The public sector has a critical role in this context.

"The APS needs to be apolitical and professional, agile, innovative, and efficient -- driving both policy and implementation through coherent, collaborative, whole-of-government approaches. It must have the capability to meet core responsibilities and deliver functions, and to understand and deploy technology and data to drive improvement."

The NPP provides payments infrastructure for consumers, businesses, and government to make fast, easy money transfers in near real-time by using a phone number or email address rather than bank account numbers and BSBs.

The NPP was built by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) alongside The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), the National Australia Bank (NAB), the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), and Westpac.

As of February, there were 13 entities participating in NPP: ANZ, Australian Settlements Limited (ASL), Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, Citigroup, CBA, Cuscal, HSBC Bank Australia, Indue, ING Australia, Macquarie Bank, NAB, the RBA, and Westpac.

Digital transformation across government

With the government focusing on digitisation, it also used the 2018-19 Budget to outline the departments earmarked for digital transformations.

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) will be getting AU$130 million in 2017-18 to improve its IT systems in order to "upgrade the capacity and performance of the Department's connected information environment; establish the platform for the enterprise identity management system; and upgrade the department's analytics and threat management capabilities".

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has been given AU$15.8 million, including AU$8.6 million in capital funding, over two years to continue its Statistical Business Transformation Program (SBTP).

"The SBTP is designing and building the next generation of statistical business processes and infrastructure to develop new statistical products more rapidly, and to make data available in a form which can be more easily used," the government explained.

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has been allocated AU$6.6 million in capital funding over four years to modernise its IT systems to support "enhanced data analytics and information sharing capabilities, streamlined registration processes, and improved transparency".

A new IT system will also be implemented using AU$36.2 million in funding over four years to support the VET Student Loans program's compliance and regulatory arrangements, utilising DHS' IT platform and operational support from the latter.

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) will additionally gain AU$10.1 million over three years to digitise its "most important" paper files and support its IT system.

Lastly, the Bureau of Meteorology will be improving security and resilience across its IT systems under tranche two of its upgrade program, with the expenditure not for publication.

The government has also provided AU$19.3 million in funding for the Australian Taxation Office, the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to "develop a detailed business case for modernising the Government's business registers".

"The detailed business case will provide options for improving how businesses interact with government, and will be considered in the 2019-20 Budget," the government said.

Under Delivering Australia's Digital Future: Modernising business registers in the 2018-19 Budget, the ATO will get AU$16.6 million while ASIC gets AU$1.6 million, the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science gets AU$1 million, and the latter department pitches in AU$100,000.

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