Budget 2021: Canberra to continue fixing its back-end with GovERP boost

The 2021-22 Budget provides more funding for the GovERP program and the federal government has once again declared it wants to involve more smaller players in its procurement activities. It is also giving more funding to the Cashless Debit Card.

The federal government has announced additional funding for Services Australia and the Department of Finance to support its work on building and delivering "modernised government technology" for managing accounts, resources, and the Australian Public Service (APS).

The shared enterprise resource planning (ERP) technology platform, GovERP, has been funded for a further two years as part of the 2021-22 federal Budget, but the dollar amount has been listed as not for publication due to commercial sensitivities.

Initially unveiled as part of the 2017 Budget, AU$89.5 million across three years was allocated to consolidate and streamline back-office corporate functions in the APS.

Finance will use its allocation of the new funding to support the adoption of GovERP by the Service Delivery Office and its 14 client agencies as the first implementation.

Read more: Finance claims savings of nearly AU$17m per year under Shared Services program

"The government has committed to continuing to transform the operation of the Australian Public Service (APS) by consolidating and standardising the delivery of corporate services through the GovERP technologies," the Budget documents [PDF] state.

"GovERP will provide a common digital backbone that allows the APS to rapidly collaborate, share and analyse data in support of current and emerging challenges."

Funding will also be provided to develop the "second pass" business cases for the further adoption of GovERP, including suitable standardised technologies for small and medium agencies.

The government will also provide AU$2.6 million over four years from 2021-22 to support Australian business participation in Commonwealth procurement.

Funding under this measure includes "scans of procurements" to map any common "pain points" for small and medium enterprises (SMEs); increased communication of procurement opportunities to potential suppliers; targeted "government procurement learning events" for SMEs about how to access supply chains, including with government buyers, and work in major project environments; mandated use of dynamic sourcing for panels to make best use of arrangements; and a pilot of direct engagement of SMEs by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources for contracts up to AU$200,000.

AU$61.5 million over four years from 2021-22 has also been earmarked to enable the Australian National Audit Office to address rising costs due to more complex financial data and records management arrangements, new audit controls relating to COVID-19 measures, and the need to enhance IT cyber security migration.

Meanwhile, the government will provide an additional AU$37.4 million over three years from 2021-22 to support initiatives to modernise and improve Australia's trade system, including a review of the regulatory processes and IT systems that impact cross-border trade.

The space sector will also get a boost, with the provision of an additional AU$13.3 million over four years from 2021-22, and AU$3.3 million per year ongoing, to the Australian Space Agency to increase its regulatory and technical advisory capacity under the Space (Launches and Returns) Act 2018 and support the growth of the industry.

The government will also provide funding, but it has not disclosed how much, to support the continuation of the Cashless Debit Card (CDC) that has been labelled as "racist" by senators.

Funding will be spent on information technology to support the continued rollout of CDC, long-term data collection, an evaluation to measure the impact of CDC, and the extension of place-based income management in all 13 current locations across Australia until 31 December 2023, as well as a handful of other items.

These announcements come in addition to the AU$200.1 million pledged to enhance myGov and the AU$301.8 million to enhance the My Health Record system as part of the pre-announced digital economy strategy.