The New South Wales government showed a great understanding of how to harness ICT in the state’s 2013-14 budget, according to Deloitte partner Patrick Lane.
The budget, released yesterday has also won praise from the Australian Computer Society (ACS).
“We’re really pleased to see the government continue to prioritise investment in ICT,” Lane told Computerworld Australia. He said he was especially encouraged that the NSW government has invested in whole-of-government delivery capabilities as well as reform of ICT policy and procurement.
“It’s true the budget doesn’t itemise any specific large-scale ICT projects [but each section of the budget contains] significant ICT spend, whether it’s in the operational budgets or the reform programs that are underway or scheduled.”
Transport, education and health were major areas of ICT investment, Lane said. For example, under transport the government plans to invest $133 million to continue implementation of the Opal smartcard. “That will be a huge innovation and is very important for the transport cluster.”
Lane stressed the importance of procurement reform alongside ICT reform.
“What we see as the big opportunity for government is to actually give greater focus to the faster, more agile digital aspects of IT”, including mobility, increased information sharing and new service delivery models, Lane said.
“It means you actually need a more agile ICT capability to build service delivery digital solutions. In order to do that, you need to leverage cloud and that requires changes in procurement rules and guidelines.”
Lane said positive effects of ICT policy reform in NSW are already starting to appear.
“If you look at some of the clusters like education and family and community services we’re starting to see more of an emphasis on ICT investment and understanding of where ICT can be really used to deliver massive improvements in front-line services rather than back-office efficiency.”
NSW leads all the other Australian jurisdictions in ICT spend, added Lane.
“To a certain extent you’d expect it to be larger simply as a reflection of the scale of operations,” he said. “For me the significance is not the size in absolute terms. It’s more the investment actually reflects the intent of the government.”
“The macro-level challenge for the government is to do more with less, which essentially means being smarter about the way things are done,” Lane said. “That leads you fairly directly to the critical nature of technology in smarter service delivery.”
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