Tuesday, May 12, 2015

IT matters of interest in the 2015/2016 Federal Budget

Just about every year since the Australian Federal Budget was first put on the web, I have done a quick search though the documents to find matters of interest in information technology.


The budget search service failed at 10:30pm, reporting "A software error has occurred.". So I used Google to search for "Information Technology", finding seven results (up from four in 2014/2015):

Budget 2015 - Protecting Australia

"The new measures include $296 million to strengthen the capabilities of our intelligence agencies, including updating information technology systems. ...
New legislation requires telecommunication companies to retain metadata for two years. We are providing $131 million to assist the telecommunications industry to upgrade its systems to implement this policy." (Repeated in PDF version of "Protecting Australia - Budget").

Metadata ...Budget 2015 - Overview - Fairness of benefits
"We will invest an initial $60 million to kick start the Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation to upgrade the Department of Human Services’ (DHS) information technology to meet the demands of today’s digital world." (repeated in PDF version of "Overview - Budget").

Defence Housing Australia — reform
"The Government will provide $4.0 million over two years from 2015‑16 to undertake a reform of Defence Housing Australia (DHA). This will include a review of DHA's accounting, information technology and business reporting systems to improve transparency of the cost of providing DHA's services, as well as a review of DHA's business plans to support the sustainable delivery of quality and accessible housing and accommodation services. "

Part 3: Capital Measures
Table 3: Capital measures since the 2014-15 MYEFO

Information technology security enhancements for Parliamentarians $6.0M

Information technology security enhancements for Parliamentarians

"The Government will provide $12.9 million over four years from 2015-16 to the Department of Finance to install more secure networking equipment and to provide additional capability for secure wireless infrastructure in electorate offices and Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices connecting to the Parliamentary Computing Network. The replacement of obsolete communications equipment will result in improved information technology security for electorate offices and parliamentary
systems in Parliament House. "

"Some of the overall reductions in staffing levels will be offset by temporary increases in particular areas to manage implementation of policy change or to build infrastructure required to achieve future automation and efficiencies. This includes investment in the information technology systems of the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the first tranche of the Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation Programme."


The "National Broadband Network" (NBN) recieves limited attention for such a large project, with only two mentions, down from four last year and eleven the year before. Curiously I could not find a dollar figure for the NBN, instead "Your Government online":
"The Government is delivering the National Broadband Network faster and at less cost, to enable all Australians to connect to transformative services online. ...
That is why the Government is investing $254.7 million in the Digital Transformation Agenda to transform government service delivery.
This includes the establishment of a Digital Transformation Office to drive the Agenda and ensure that Government services are simpler and easier to use and can be completed from start to finish online.
The first phase of the Agenda will include provisions to:
  • implement a Digital Service Standard to apply to all Government agencies to make services simpler, faster and easier to use;
  • design and deliver more myGov services with an improved digital inbox, ‘tell us once’ services, and a new digital account for businesses that can be accessed using myGov; and
  • a simpler, more consistent and efficient grants administration process across government.
The Agenda will also include the implementation of a Streamlined Business Registration service announced in the Jobs and Small Business package. This will simplify the process of registering a business."

The provision for the "Stage One and establishment of the Digital Transformation Office" is a relatively modest $0.3M.

Pia Waugh, from the Digital Transformation Office  will be speaking at  Open Knowledge Australia's "Open Data and Digital Services: Foundations for a New Information Economy" in Canberra, 2:30pm, 13 May 2015.

In 2013/2014 the Government "recommitted" to "Remote Indigenous Internet Access", but but without an explicit amount of money committed to the program. Last year there were no such programs in the budget.This year there is provision for: " remote Indigenous internet training"  $2.2M.

In 2013/2015 the Government announced it would save $31.2 M over two years by incorporating the functions of the National Health Information Network (NHIN) into the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) system. Last year $140.6 million was provided in for the PCEHR. The government  has now renamed the project "My Health Record":
"The Government will invest $485 million to improve the electronic health record system for all Australians."
 This project has already cost many hundreds of millions of dollars for little result. I suggest it requires investigation by the Auditor-General, if not the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP).


This year budget web site worked well (except the search function). Each year from 1996 to 2006 the budget web site was improved. By 2007-08 it reached a stable design, also used for to 2011/2013, using HTML 4.01 Transitional. The 2014/15 had s similar design using HTML5.  The 2015/2016 website has changed to a more mobile friendly design. The home page scored 91/100 on Google's Mobile PageSpeed Insights for User Experience. The page received a 62 / 100 for Speed, which is not as good as it could be, given the heavy traffic it is likely to experience.

The home page failed a W3C HTML Markup Validation test, with fifteen errors. These are not serious problems and easily fixed, but it is curious that such a high profile page is not tested more thoroughly.

The home page scored a very poor 0 out of 100 on the W3C mobileOK Checker. The total size of the page is  527.2KB (document: 14.6KB - stylesheets: 81.4KB - images: 431.1KB). This much smaller than  2014/2015 when the page ballooned to 17.9MB, but the style-sheets and images could be trimmed.

The budget home page failed a aChecker automated accessibility test (WCAG 2.0 Level AA) but with just two very minor and easily corrected problems.

The Budget is released under a a Creative Commons BY Attribution 3.0 Australia license, in line with open access government policy (commenced 2012/13).

Comments on past budgets:

1996 https://web.archive.org/web/20080521192851/http://www.anu.edu.au/mail-archives/link/link9608/0096.html
1997 https://web.archive.org/web/20080521192851/http://www.anu.edu.au/mail-archives/link/link9705/0315.html
1998 https://web.archive.org/web/20080521192851/http://www.anu.edu.au/mail-archives/link/link9805/0174.html
1999 https://web.archive.org/web/20080521192851/http://www.anu.edu.au/mail-archives/link/link9905/0265.html
2000 https://web.archive.org/web/20080521192851/http://www.anu.edu.au/mail-archives/link/link0005/0358.html
2002 https://web.archive.org/web/20080521192851/http://www.anu.edu.au/mail-archives/link/link0205/0318.html
2004 http://mailman.anu.edu.au/pipermail/link/2004-May/056673.html
2005 http://www.archivum.info/link@mailman.anu.edu.au/2005-05/msg00035.html
2006 http://mailman.anu.edu.au/pipermail/link/2006-May/066486.html
2007 http://www.tomw.net.au/blog/2007/05/it-matters-of-interest-in-20072008.html
2008 http://www.tomw.net.au/blog/2008/05/it-matters-of-interest-in-20072008.html
2009 http://blog.tomw.net.au/2009/05/it-matters-of-interest-in-20092010.html
2010 http://blog.tomw.net.au/2010/05/it-matters-of-interest-in-20102011.html
2011 http://blog.tomw.net.au/2011/05/it-matters-of-interest-in-20112012.html
2012 http://blog.tomw.net.au/2012/05/it-matters-of-interest-in-20122013.html
2013 http://blog.tomw.net.au/2013/05/it-matters-of-interest-in-20132014.html
2014 http://blog.tomw.net.au/2014/05/it-matters-of-interest-in-20142015.html
2014 Changes to Australian Higher Education in the 2014/2015 Federal Budget

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