news The Western Australian state government has announced a cloud computing initiative that is aimed to boost services while cutting back on overall spending.
The GovNext-ICT program aims to shave hundreds of millions of dollars from state government information and communications technology (ICT) expenditure, yet still greatly improve services and efficiency.
While addressing an industry briefing on 19 November, Finance Minister Bill Marmion said the government was among the state’s most significant ICT purchasers.
“We spend between three to five per cent per annum of the overall state’s budget on ICT, so it is imperative we get maximum value for taxpayers by leveraging our buying power and reducing duplication,” Marmion said.
He explained that GovNext-ICT is about paying “only for what we use”, moving away from owning and operating ICT infrastructure, so the state can concentrate on delivering the business of government. “Estimated savings of $65 million a year are achievable,” he said.
A total of nine agencies, representing 80% of government ICT, are committed to the new program.
Marmion pointed out that businesses and governments worldwide are now consumers ICT as a service from private industry, with great benefit to their operations. “Given this, there is no reason for the WA Government to buy, own and operate its own infrastructure,” he said.
“GovNext-ICT is the most significant government ICT project in WA history,” he continued. “It is estimated that if we continue along with the current ‘own and operate’ model, we will be forced to spend over $3 billion on ICT infrastructure in the next 10 years.”
Improved connectivity for government agencies in regional areas is expected to boost delivery of more online services, particularly in health, justice and education.
Indications are, the minister said, that Western Australia can deliver an initial five-fold increase in Internet speeds for its regional schools, with a potential 50-fold increase possible.
“It is expected that our long-term commitment to GovNext-ICT will prompt private enterprise to build local infrastructure that will lay the foundations for WA to become a global technology hub,” he said.
Western Australia is one of a large number of states looking into the cloud as a means to boost government services following the federal government’s “cloud-first” policy which was announced in 2013. That move followed frustration with a number of government on-premises IT projects that were widely seen to have been expensive failures.
Most recently, on 11 November, Tasmania announced that it will build on-island servers with local partners to shift its government services to the cloud.
The state government said the project is aimed to “better serve the needs of the Tasmanian community, as well as support the local ICT industry, including moving the majority of government data to the Tasmanian Cloud”.