NSW ‘Secret weapon’: $500m boost for digital restart fund

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

The New South Wales government has allocated a further $500m to its Digital Restart Fund, expanding Australia’s biggest government digital infrastructure program beyond $2 billion and extending it a further year.

Major new works being undertaken with the fund include a $104 million modernising of the state’s licencing and compliance program, a digital patient record system and an eConstruction initiative.

The top up was revealed in Tuesday’s budget, which also included a new innovation fund for health research and commercialisation, $36 million for R&D, and continued support for the state’s Data Analytic Centre.

The government has also allocated $5million to continue the overhaul of its digital procurement processes and will invest another $220 million to complete its critical communications program to create a single interoperable network for emergency services.

Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello will oversee another $500 million spend on government digital initiatives.

New South Wales Treasurer Dominic Perrottet handed down the budget on Tuesday, praising the state’s pandemic response and the government’s digital services.

“Strong public health has been the foundation of our recovery,” Mr Perrottet said.

“But New South Wales also has a secret weapon: a digital government platform light-years ahead of the competition.”

In 2019 the New South Wales government created a Digital Restart Fund (DRF) with $100 million to transform internal delivery capability. It increased the fund ten fold last year in a push to “turbo-charge” the program.

The latest budget includes a further $500 million over three years for the fund, bringing total investment to $2.1 billion. The government’s service delivery arm, the Department of Customer Service, will also see a $130 million funding boost.

The DRF top up will go towards programs in completing a digital patient records program, an $18 million eConstruction initiative for digital certification registers, and cybersecurity projects across several government clusters partly in response to serious data breaches last year.

A whole of government web consolidation program has been budgeted at nearly $14 million and expected to take two years.

Other new DRF works include a $2 million death notification service, $2.5 million for enhancements to the mining royalty management system, $104 million over three years for a modernising licence and compliance program, and another $7.3 million to continue upgrades of government ERP.

“We want to save customers time and money when interacting with government, and technology is a critical part of the solution as we’ve seen with the Service NSW App, the NSW QR Code system and Dine & Discover vouchers,” Minister for Digital and Customer Service Victor Dominello said.

“This funding allows us to build on popular products like the Digital Drivers Licence, FuelCheck and Park’nPay, while also uplifting our cyber and information security systems.”

The Digital Procurement Transformation Program has received $4.9 million over the next two years to continue its task of simplifying transacting with the state government, including diversifying spend with subject matter experts, aboriginal-owned, regional and startup enterprises.

All suppliers will now also be required to submit a binding SME and local participation plan for government contracts worth more than $3 million.

The New South Wales Data Analytics Centre will be funded with $9 million per year over the forward estimates. The data centre, which developed the state’s first data strategy and is responsible for improving service delivery through better use of insights, will build on its work during the pandemic, when it coordinated the use of data in the response and across government.

$660 million  in capital funding has been allocated for the continued upgrade of the state’s public safety radio network, used by emergency services. More than 300 new radio sites are planned to nearly double the network’s land coverage to 85 per cent and population coverage to 99.7 per cent.

Electric vehicle uptake will be encouraged with a $480 million package of incentives, tax concessions and rebates.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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