NSW Govt to review IT spending

NSW has committed to a review of its ICT funding and expenditure across all government agencies, as part of a series to keep expenditure growth at 4 per cent per annum.
Written by Suzanne Tindal, Contributor

update NSW has committed to a review of its ICT funding and expenditure across all government agencies, as part of a series to keep expenditure growth at 4 per cent per annum.

The review (the first of many which will look into other areas such as procurement) is to be submitted to the government in three months, establishing savings and targets for improving the efficiency of ICT expenditure, the state said today as part of its annual budget announcement.

Any savings from the review would be in addition to the savings that will be obtained through the government's whole-of-government ICT strategy People First.

The government acknowledged the fact that this was not the first review of ICT, saying in budget documents that it would take into account where agencies were following the advice of other reviews by investing in technology to improve "front line" services.

Although whole-of-government savings were sought, the state's education budget papers were full of technology spend, flagging about $176 million for the Digital Education Revolution throughout the state. Of that, $80 million is for providing access to computers for all students from years 9 to 12. In addition, schools would also get $36 million for expanding the use of e-learning using tools such as video-conferencing and interactive whiteboards.

NSW Police has received a generous dollop of technology funds, after having its budget curtailed in the mini-budget. It will receive over $56 million to upgrade police technology, communications and other equipment.

The Department of Commerce intended to spend $67.1 million on the People First initiative and also expected capital expenditure of $21.5 million on "computer projects", which were tipped to include upgrades and system replacements.

A substantial slab of the Attorney-General's Department's capital expenditure was laid out for IT purposes, with $9.3 million going towards technology for exchanging legal information and $4.4 million for upgrade technology in Legal Aid offices statewide. Corrective Services was provided $14.9 million this year for its own ICT upgrades.

NSW Health said that it would put some of its $603 million capital spend towards new ICT programs, including the implementation of a new community health and outpatients information system and further development of its other IT systems.

The Health IT investment amounted to $63.1 million for continuing work on the development on information systems as well as $4.9 million to complete a financial management system for shared corporate services within NSW Health.

The transport smartcard, now on take two after the Tcard sunk, was only briefly mentioned in the budget, with the papers saying that a contract was on track to be signed in the first quarter of 2010.

Although ticketing was not named directly in relation to a monetary spend, $12.4 million was laid out for ICT support systems for the Rail Corporation of NSW, which represented, according to budget documents a portfolio of projects, which were in the planning phase or subject to tender.

Energy also received a big IT spend, with $98.8 million going to Energy Australia for the development of information technology systems, $69.6 million to Country Energy for IT hardware and $24.7 million to Integral energy for the development of IT systems. Sydney Water also obtained $58.5 million for the continuation of its IT projects.

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