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BUDGET 2011: ICT Budget bites

A quick look at ICT spending across a range of Federal Government departments and agencies.

[See the complete coverage of ICT spending in Computerworld Australia's Federal Budget 2011 section]

Defence will be given $19.9 million over four years to improve internet amenities for Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel deployed on operations. The funding will be used to secure a single provider for the delivery of internet services for ADF personnel on operations. The funding includes $2.5 million, which will be met from within the existing resources of the Department of Defence.

The Department of Veterans' Affairs is focusing heavily on funding for fraud prevention and compliance. Accordingly, $1.7 million will be provided over four years to enable electronic data exchange with financial institutions to improve debt recovery.

Under this initiative, the Department of Veterans' Affairs will be able to request and receive customer information electronically, bringing its practices into line with those already in place in Centrelink.

"The changes will ensure a faster and more accurate assessment of overpayments, leading to a higher rate of identification and recovery of debts," the 2011 Budget reads.

"Debts will be reduced by an estimated $7.7 million over four years, resulting in net savings to the Government of $6.0 million over four years."

Some $4.2 million over four years will be spent on preventing overpayments to Department of Veterans' Affairs' (DVA) clients who receive compensation payments from insurance companies and statutory authorities.

"The measure will allow DVA client data to be matched with Centrelink data to prevent or recover any duplication of payments made by insurance companies and statutory authorities, to minimise overpayments and client debt," the budget reads.

"The measure is estimated to provide net savings of $0.2 million over four years."

A pilot program to investigate options for redesigning information communication technology (ICT) for veteran rehabilitation and compensation programs to better meet clients' needs and assist with early intervention and rehabilitation will be funded to the tune of $3.4 million in 2011-12.

According to the government's current ICT arrangements for managing veteran rehabilitation and compensation, programs are different for each of the three compensation Acts administered by the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet will turn to digital books in an effort to cut budget expenditure. The government expects to save some $1.6 million over four years from the Get Reading! Program -- aimed at promoting books and reading -- via utilising digital technology and e-publishing.

The government will establish a "MyRegion" website at the cost of $4.2 million over four years to provide information about regional Australia. Services include transport infrastructure, health and aged care, education, social services, communications and the environment.

"The website will enable users to download data for further analysis and will provide them with an opportunity to make enquiries and provide feedback to Government using social media technologies," the budget reads.

The government will spend $2.3 million in 2011-12 for a scoping study, technical pilot and business case to investigate and test ways to improve ease of use and access to Australian Government services.

The pilot will look at allowing individuals to communicate updated details to multiple agencies simultaneously, pre-filling forms using information previously submitted to a government agency, and the ability for the individual to view all their government communications in one place.

The Government will provide $4.2 million in 2011-12 for the development of a business case to overhaul the ICT systems supporting biosecurity activities, in partnership with the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.

Follow Tim Lohman on Twitter: @tlohman

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU


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