“For vendors there is no point in sitting back and waiting for the dollars to roll in. There is, against the background of cuts, money to be lost if you just sit back.”
Mr Noonan acknowledged that the cuts to capital of $230 million which were announced in last year’s midyear financial review were starting to roll through agencies, as was the so called efficiency dividend which was taking $500 million out of agency spending. He said that this would flow through to hardware refreshes and the like.
“Business as usual has a fairly gloomy outlook,” said Mr Noonan. In addition the Government has announced staffing reductions of 3,073 in its Budget.
Although it is unclear how many of those are likely to be IT related roles, Mr Noonan said that the fact there were fewer agency staff meant there would be a requirement for smaller networks and fewer PCs and act as a “dampener on demand” for IT. “It’s sort of like the hospital without patients,” he said.
Nevertheless Mr Noonan was encouraged by the series of big ticket IT projects which were unveiled in aged care, superannuation, e-health and the National Disability Insurance Scheme. It is fair to say though that although the headline numbers are fairly large - $467 million for SuperStream and the ATO spending, $233 million on the personally controlled electronic health record, $198 million for an aged care gateway, and $240 million on IT infrastructure for the NDIS - these programmes and their related budgets are spread out over up to seven years.
Besides these major initiatives Mr Noonan identified a slew of smaller but interesting IT projects including an improvement to the Australian Business Register at a cost of $68.5 million over five years, including the geocoding of addresses; and an extension of the Smartgate programme at Australia’s international airports.