Victoria’s budget calls for creative IT projects

By Lilia Guan

The Victorian Government’s recent release of its budget gives IT projects a little bit of breathing space, however with a billion dollars worth of cuts on the books with a lot of activity underway in cutting existing expenditure including IT projects.

The government’s recent release of its budget includes $258 million in new investment in targeted portfolios over the next four years – primarily health, emergency services and water management.
The largest investment is $100 million over four years allocated to a Victorian Innovation, electronic health and communications technology fund to support public health services information communication technology (ICT) projects; including system; software upgrades; and installations.
Ovum analyst, Steve Hodgkinson said the Department of Sustainability & Environment received $27 million for making fire risk mapping data available free of charge and for a range of water modelling and management systems.
The Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority received a further $21.9 million to enhance its computer aided dispatch system. In Transport, further asset funding of $32.5 million is allocated to completion of the Metropolitan Train Safety Communications System and, in the gift that keeps on giving; a further $50 million has been allocated to continuation of the Metcard ticketing system in parallel with Myki.
He said although the budget was “perhaps better than expected,” overall, the government has spread $4.1 billion of investment across hundreds of new policy and service delivery initiatives.
“Some of which will no doubt pull through some IT projects, but this is in exchange for savings expectations of $1 billion to be achieved by cuts to other programs and productivity improvements,” Mr Hodgkinson said.
“The IT investment agenda for the next few years will thus very much be driven by the need to extend the life of existing assets and systems while finding ways to fund productivity boosting IT investments from within existing department and agency appropriations.”
He believes agencies will need to “think outside their boxes” this year to find ways to drive innovation and productivity improvements without the need for the usual heavy lifting expensive, long winded, and risky ICT projects.
“Some useful proof points for the value of cloud computing services as an alternative to traditional IT are now emerging from the agency woodwork,” he said.
“So we expect to see more active consideration of cloud services as the word gets out that they actual can be better, faster and less expensive, as well as less risky.”
He told Government News the Victorian government has backed itself into a corner with its Efficient Technology Strategy and the string of troubled projects revealed in the Ombudsman’s report late last year.
“Strategy and the string of troubled projects revealed in the Ombudsman’s report late last year, is all a bit of a dysfunctional mess due to poor leadership, lack of a coherent IT strategy,” Mr Hodgkinson said.
“The pressure is now on for individual agencies to change the way they think about how to use ICT to enable innovation and how to source and manage ICT capabilities.”
For the full analyses of Victoria’s 2012-2013 budget and the impact on government agencies’ budget read the June/July edition of Government News.

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