NSW Budget tucks IT spending away in the background

Few technology-related projects are in the limelight in the most recent NSW Budget, but the spending is there; it's just rolled into other large projects.

Spending on IT is not the main focus of New South Wales' most recent Budget, but a number of large ticket items indicate that money is being spent on technology in the background.

In handing down its 2013-14 Budget, the NSW government looks to place itself at a deficit of AU$329 million — a change from the AU$680 million surplus that the auditor general found in October last year, but down from the original deficit of AU$337 million when last year's Budget was revealed by Treasurer Mike Baird.

The largest technology-related projects focus include a AU$133 million spend on expanding the Opal card ticketing system across the rail network, and projects within education. Part of AU$128 million will be spent enhancing IT and business support systems at government schools, and part of AU$91 million will be go toward 29 building and IT projects at TAFE NSW.

For other departments, modest upgrades were found.

The Department of Treasury gave itself AU$8 million to implement a new financial information system, but more spending on technology-related items was seen in the Department of Attorney-General and Justice.

Legal Aid NSW will gain new audio-visual facilities and better mobile technology as part of its AU$4.4 million spend on capital expenditure, AU$3 million will be spent on upgrading the Jury Management System in courts, and AU$3.5 million will be spent on an electronic indictments project. NSW Police will also have greater tie-in with the Justice Department, with AU$5.3 million set aside to continue its Joined-up Justice project to enhance the electronic exchange of data.

The Department of Premier and Cabinet had a few noteworthy tech projects, including allotments of AU$5.3 million and AU$3.5 million in IT upgrades for the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and the Audit Office, respectively.

Also in the department, the NSW Electoral Commission has been given AU$3.2 million over two years to upgrade its IT infrastructure in order to get it ready for the March 2015 election, and a further AU$3.6 million over two years was granted to ensure that an electronic voting system would be in play.

A return to surplus is now expected to come about in 2014-15 at AU$829 million.