blog Curious about what technology-related iniatives came out last night’s Federal Budget? So were we, given that the release of the budget had been being hyped for weeks (months?) by much of the mainstream media as part of its continual fixation on the fraught battle between the various sides of politics. However, unlike previous years, this yaer there wasn’t much in the 2013 Federal Budget to interest technologists, as Telsyte analyst Rodney Gedda tells Computerworld this morning:
“It’s going to invest a little bit more in helping small businesses take advantage of the NBN, it’s going to invest a bit more in local broadcasting content and satellite services for people. So there are dribs and drabs of IT industry related measures in the budget but it’s not really an IT-heavy budget.”
Analyst house Intermedium broadly agrees, writing in a separate article this morning:
“Rather than big funding commitments, the 2013-14 Federal Budget contains a sort of ICT wish-list made up of business cases and investigations into major programs, leaving Labor’s own budget bottom line unburdened by their cost in the full knowledge that an incoming Coalition Government could roll back initiatives as it pleases anyway.”
Probably the biggest single item in this year’s budget in terms of IT project funding was a $102.2 million initiative which will go to the Department of Human Services (a big budget winner in previous years), which urgently needs to overhaul its child support IT system. According to a media release issued by Minister for Human Services Jan McLucas:
“The current system has been in place for over a decade and is at the end of its proposed lifespan. The longer the delay to replace it, the higher the cost of system maintenance and the greater the risk of error. This is expected to commence in July 2013 and will be implemented by December 2015. Further upgrades will be completed by June 2018.”
In addition, McLucas ominously foreshadowed an even bigger potential long-term upgrade to broader Human Services infrastructure in terms of a $16.2 million review into fellow Human Services portfolio agency Centrelink’s Income Security Integrated System.
“The Centrelink IT system supports assessments and delivery of income support and family payments to over seven million people, with over half a billion dollars deposited into the bank accounts of Australians every working day,” said McLucas. “IT requirements are extensive and the review will examine options to ensure we can continue to support and deliver future Government programs, efficiently and effectively.”
In terms of other items, there’s been a bit of argy-bargy around the funding for the NBN (find more on that here at iTNews, including a bit of a reduction in NBN advertising dollars (ZDNet), and the move by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy to chop the controversial Internet filter program will also save the Federal Government some $4.5 million — pocket change. You can also find a more complete list of the ‘scabbies’ funding items at iTNews if you’re interested in precisely how much each agency is getting for things like minor datacentre upgrades and so on.
The Delimiter view: Rather a boring budget. No massive new IT projects at Centrelink, Tax, Defence, Immigration or Customs, but rather a handful of small to medium-sized projects. A bit of the normal argy-bargy over NBN funding and quite a bit of data matching all over the place. Really, not much for the IT industry to get excited over at this point. Not that we really expected much, given the constant talk about how big a deficit Australia is about to have and whether that actually matters ;)