Federal government ramps ICT spend to over $9 billion

Angus Taylor, assistant minister for cities and digital transformation, has foreshadowed a boost in ICT spending – with the latest projection capped at $9.3 billion in procurement across departments and agencies.

The Australian government’s key minister for digital transformation, Angus Taylor, has foreshadowed a major boost in ICT spending – with the latest estimate capped at $9.3 billion across organisations. The core focus is on digital services, open data, and cloud services, among other platforms.

The future procurement effort will see the Commonwealth open up business for small-to-medium enterprises. The procurement effort is managed through the online Digital Marketplace.

Minister Taylor, also a keynote speaker at the Annual FST Government Australia being held 17th October (Canberra), had earlier foreshadowed profound changes in the way that ICT and other goods and services are procured.

Projects and contracts needed to be managed in smaller pieces, noted Taylor. This approach would enable SMEs to gain more traction across government. Big tenders were traditionally “not digestible” for SMEs, he said. The sweet spot was between about $80,000 and $5 million in contracts.

Among recent initiatives, the administration is building independent integration capabilities for projects. The Digital Marketplace had sought to break down the barriers for smaller companies.

Minister Taylor noted that large organisations have found it hard bring about change, especially on a large scale. Apart from using an agile methodology, moves are underway to break up projects, and better understand the technology investment. The goal is to work with key stakeholders to improve proposals, and break these into smaller, more digestible pieces.

The move to digital services remains critical, especially around building an omni-channel strategy. This platform links the digital to the non-digital, while laying the foundations for online access to services for all demographics.

On the ICT front, the uptake of cloud services will remain pivotal. Cloud and as-a-service models remain a priority. This runs alongside the streamlining of governance structures, and benchmarking cloud transformation projects.

With open data access, the administration had fused the National Map and the data.gov.au services. This integration would create a world-class open data infrastructure. Citizens can now explore about 20,000 datasets that are available, and growing.

According to a report by Deloitte, the public sector had already moved to digitise many customer transactions. However, traditional channels for customer transactions such as face-to-face (or over-the-counter), telephone and mail continued to play a role.

Moreover, some government transactions were difficult to replace with digital options because of the complexity. Of an estimated 811 million transactions at the federal and state levels each year, approximately 40 per cent are still completed using traditional channels. 

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