Cut to defence spending
The biggest single issue to impact the IT community will be the $5.6 billion general cut to defence spending. Because Defence has significant spending on IT, this cut is likely to have some impact on the industry, though the budget still includes $550 million for IT remediation activities across Defence.
As previously announced, an efficiency dividend of 2.5 per cent will apply to all government agencies as from 1 July 2012. It is believed that this will also hit government IT spending, as agencies have been encouraged to delay IT projects to meet this target.
There were a number of minor IT initiatives announced or extended in the budget:
- an additional $233.7 million has been allocated to progress the national e-Health agenda, including to enable the operation of the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record system. This extends the previous $466.7 million investment, which runs out in June, and will allow the system to launch in July;
- $240.3 million over four years to build and operate an information technology system to support the national disability insurance scheme. According to the budget documents, the system will collect and analyse data to monitor client outcomes and measure the performance of the new arrangements;
- $82.4 million is being provided to the Australia Prudential Regulation Authority for an upgrade of its ICT infrastructure;
- $19.8 million is to be provided over three years to support biosecurity ICT infrastructure;
- the government is providing over $11 million to support the one laptop per child program which, as part of a 12 month pilot program, will deliver over 50,000 laptops to primary students in regional and remote Australia, particularly to indigenous children.