Budget 2020-21: Elections, health and OAIC all due for IT upgrades

Budget 2020-21: Elections, health and OAIC all due for IT upgrades

$96.7 million allocated to upgrade the Australian Electoral Commission’s IT systems.

Credit: Photo 143699686 © Kataca Rix |

Numerous government departments have been earmarked for technological upgrades as part of the Federal Government’s 2020-21 Budget.

One standout component will be the allocation of $96.7 million to upgrade the Australian Electoral Commission’s (AEC) ageing IT systems.

Revealed by Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, the funds will be deployed over three years to replace and modernise the AEC’s key elections systems. 

The amount builds on funding provided in the 2019-20 Budget and is the first tranche of upgrades to the ICT infrastructure.

In the first wave, additional self-service channels including more online support and the a telephone virtual assistant will be introduced, alongside the creation of temporary election workforce systems. 

The budget will also introduce new supply chain management controls to support rapid production and delivery of materials to polling places and counting centres, plus more monitoring of operations and incidents.

The Office of the National Data Commissioner, meanwhile, will gain $39.2 million towards upgrading its IT systems for public sector data sharing and release.

Unsurprisingly, given the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Health was earmarked by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg for IT upgrades.

The most notable of this was $18.6 million for the department to “progress IT systems to support quality assurance for Medicare Benefits Schedule telehealth services”. 

A further $7.7 million will be deployed over four years for the Department of Health to establish a unique device identification system for implanted medical devices

Meanwhile, an unspecified amount will also be spent on data storage at the Department of Home Affairs that will be shared with the agency responsible for the country’s My Health Record.

As previously announced, the government is to invest $1.6 billion in bolstering its cyber security defences over the next 10 years, of which $470 will support hiring 500 new security specialists at the Australian Signals Directorate.

On top of this, $110 million will be allocated to the Department of Defence for industry grants, skilling and micro credentialing and cyber training.

On the jobs and skills front, the Department of Education, Skills and Employment will receive $91.6 million over four years for a new apprenticeships data management system.

The system will “better support government service delivery through the operation of the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network and administration of apprenticeship programs”.

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