WA pumps AU$35m into digital government

Western Australia's Office of Digital Government will have AU$34.7 million to push its digital reform agenda.

The government of Western Australia has announced it will invest AU$34.7 million into digital transformation in the public sector.

The funding will be handed to the Office of Digital Government (ODG) that will lead the state's digital reform agenda, with Innovation and ICT Minister Dave Kelly on Monday explaining the money used will help WA play catch-up where digital is concerned.

The digital reform agenda will focus on improving delivery of online services; developing a data protection policy and strategy; building data analytics capabilities; supporting the implementation of information technology procurement reforms; and investigating strategies to reduce digital divides and digital disadvantages.

See also: Digital transformation: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)

The ODG was stood up last year as part of a machinery of governmental changes that followed Labor assuming government in the 2017 election. It saw the ODG replace the Office of the government chief information officer (OGCIO).

The change was announced in the state's 2018-19 Budget and was touted as providing a stronger mandate for the government's digital transformation agenda of ensuring that IT performance, data sharing, and cybersecurity are strengthened.

The state appointed Greg Italiano as the Western Australia government chief information officer (GCIO) in December. Italiano is entrusted to improve cybersecurity across the WA government and lead the state's digital reform agenda.

"The government recognises that digital transformation is fundamental to a modern, efficient public sector," Kelly added on Monday, saying the previous government left the state with a "lot of work to do to make sure the WA public sector can meet community expectations".

"We have now established an Office of Digital Government and committed ongoing funding for it to ensure the state government is supported by efficient and effective technology, while meeting community expectations for security."

When the OGCIO was stood up in 2015, former Premier Colin Barnett said the GCIO would play an important role in helping to stabilise the government's IT costs; develop a whole-of-government IT strategy; and build the capacity of WA's growing IT sector.

"The government spends AU$1 billion to AU$2 billion on IT and this needs to be strongly managed to ensure we deliver the best value to West Australians," Barnett said at the time.

The office was charged with the behemoth IT project known as GovNext-ICT. Worth AU$3 billion over the next 10 years, the government digital transformation project is aimed at allowing the state to concentrate on delivering government services, by handing the IT heavy-lifting elsewhere.

It is expected to save the state AU$60-80 million in IT infrastructure expenditure annually.

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