The Northern Territory government is removing ad-hoc money wasting technology systems and services in a bid to claw back lost revenue.
The government's Fiscal Strategy Panel, set up last year to look at a $3.4 billion revenue shortfall, has found that despite its “relatively small size”, the government doesn’t have a single integrated budget management system for agencies. This means these agencies aren’t capable of budgeting at the 'cost centre level', or providing consolidated cash flow information.
In a Treasury report, the panel has recommended that the Northern Territory undertake a whole-of-government audit to determine the range of ICT systems actively used across government and their anticipated life cycles.
The audit should also be used to identify opportunities to replace bespoke systems with commercial off-the-shelf alternatives that can provide similar functionality while achieving efficiencies through economies of scale and/or standardisation, the report said.
“Agencies have adopted a range of in-house solutions, including unsophisticated spreadsheet-based approaches, and prepare manual monthly cash flow reports,” the report said.
“This approach restricts the ability to centrally monitor real-time financial performance against approved budgets and, in the case of spreadsheet-based approaches, significantly increases the Territory’s financial risk.”
The panel recommended that the government should “address the financial and operational risks and inefficiencies associated with the current approach” by developing and implementing a single integrated budget management system for agencies – centrally managed by the Department of Corporate and Information Services.
According to the report, increasing the use of process automation could increase service delivery efficiency, particularly in shared and back-office services such as procurement, finance and transactional human resources processes
“The Territory Government should conduct an opportunity scan to identify automation opportunities and develop an automation roadmap,” the report said.
The panel has recommended the NT adopt a digital-first mindset to government service delivery to reduce the cost of service provision through smarter use of technology – an initiative the Panel acknowledges -- has progressed in a number of other states.
“Digital transformation offers the Territory Government the opportunity to improve policy effectiveness; enable cheaper and faster service delivery through convenient online transactions,” the report states.
- Online government services
- Telehealth court videoconferencing
- Unmanned aerial vehicles (drones).
Other recommendations include, the opportunity to improve government service delivery efficiency through ICT system enhancements; for example -- introducing electronic case briefings for courts in place of the existing manual paper-based approach.
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