Public sector technology investment
Some other good news for local IT providers operating in the public sector is the Government’s funding pledges for a number of ongoing high-value IT overhaul projects, along with a few new technology initiatives that could see public sector partners tap into some lucrative government contracts.
The Government will provide $316 million over four years from 2018‒19 to continue the transformation of Centrelink’s ageing technology platform and streamline the delivery of welfare payments.
This funding is for the third tranche of the Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation (WPIT) which, when combined with the first two tranches, is tipped to top the $1 billion mark.
The Government will also provide $130 million to upgrade the Department of Home Affairs’ IT infrastructure for visa processing, identity management and threat analysis, to better detect and prevent threats.
It is also planning to pump another $106.8 million over the four years from 2018-19 into its ongoing program to modernise the country’s health and aged care payments systems.
The latest Budget also includes a new digital identity solution for accessing government services, with the so-called GovPass program claiming $92.4 million in funding for 2018-19.
The solution is intended to let people prove their identity to a government agency or accredited non-government organisation, and then re-use the proven identity when accessing other government services.
Moreover, the Government said it is continuing to invest in supercomputing, including the upgrade of two supercomputers, with total funding of $140 million for the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Perth and the National Computational Infrastructure facility at the Australian National University.
The Federal Government said in April it would shell out $70 million to replace tech infrastructure at the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre.
Another tech-focused investment is the $160.9 million pledged over the four years from 2018-19, plus ongoing funding of $39.2 million from 2022-23, to improve the accuracy and availability of satellite positioning across Australia, enhancing Australia’s use of GPS.
The new technology will be used to increase productivity across the economy, including in the agriculture, construction and logistics industries, according to the Government.
Altogether, the Government has pledged over $2.4 billion in funding for science and technology initiatives, including a $1.9 billion investment in research infrastructure over 12 years, fresh funding for the development of Australia’s artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities.
The Budget also includes money for initiatives such as the Asian Innovation Strategy and SME Export Hubs to help Australian businesses and researchers tap into new growth opportunities overseas, and $41 million to establish a national space agency and grow the Australian space industry.
“The Government will invest more than $2.4 billion in Australia's public technology infrastructure,” Morrison said in his Budget night speech.
“This includes supercomputers, world class satellite imagery, more accurate GPS across Australia, upgrading the Bureau of Meteorology's technology platform, a national space agency and leading research in artificial intelligence.
“It's exciting, setting up our manufacturing, agriculture, transport and service industries for success. They rely on this public infrastructure to do their own research, develop new products and services and run their businesses more efficiently,” he said.