Budget 2021: new ICT systems and upgrades planned

Budget 2021: new ICT systems and upgrades planned

The ICT devil is in the detail of this year's Budget, not in the headlines.

Grant Robertson, Minister of Finance.

Grant Robertson, Minister of Finance.

Credit: Supplied

While there were no new large headline digital or technology initiatives in this year's Budget, released this afternoon, there was multi-year support for a number of vital projects and programmes:

A $170 million contingency, for instance, will enable investment in data and digital infrastructure and capability (including Hira, the national health information platform) needed to implement health system reforms and improve health system performance.

$20 million has been voted for a new tenancy bond system. This project will address significant ICT risks and ensure the system used to facilitate residential tenancy bond transactions is stable, secure, supported and meets service requirements and customer expectations. 

The four-year system replacement will not only avoid the risk of system failure or compromise but also fund service delivery improvements and improve the quality and availability of data, the Budget said.

"This will enable the system to support outcomes across the wider residential tenancy regulatory system," the Budget said. "Funding will be used for the build, deployment, and ongoing maintenance and support of a replacement ICT system."

$36 million will be invested to expand the existing business connect digital platform that enables integrated services for businesses when dealing with local and central government. 

The service allowed businesses to apply for a range of licences, permits and registrations from different government agencies in one place, reducing compliance time and cost.

$5.8 million will be spent responding to Māori interests in radio spectrum that are being considered by Government as it prepares to allocate spectrum for the fifth-generation (5G) of mobile broadband. 

"The initiative provides funding for a Māori-led work programme for ongoing discussions between Treaty partners about an enduring resolution of Māori interests in radio spectrum, supporting a step-change in Māori participation in the digital economy and enabling the Crown to move forward with commercial allocation of spectrum for 5G," the Budget said.

$22 million of additional funding will support the ongoing operation of the Research and Education Advanced Network New Zealand (REANNZ). which provides a high performance telecommunications network that enables cutting-edge, high-impact and internationally-connected research activity and core science services.

REANNZ  is part of a global network that transfers large volumes of digitised research data and underpins Aotearoa New Zealand’s ability to participate in global data-intensive research and connect with international partners. 

It also supports data-intensive services such as GeoNet’s 24/7 natural hazards monitoring centre.

$63 million will fund the Emergency Caller Location Information (ECLI) service that enables emergency call-takers to receive automatically generated geographical information about the location of a 111-caller from any mobile phone. 

ECLI is an integral part of New Zealand’s emergency services system, leading to faster emergency call handling and response times due to better incident information.

"The initiative enables the continued operation of the service and allows for the development and implementation of technical enhancements necessary to keep the service current," the Budget said.

$10 million will provide funding to repurpose a spectrum band to promote the widespread rural deployment of 5G technology. 

This will support enhancing connectivity and help to relieve network capacity pressures to enable demand for broadband to be met in rural and urban-fringe communities.

$44 million will enable partnering with the private sector to deliver a two-year nationwide programme to supply core digital business skills training to 50,000 to 60,000 Aotearoa New Zealand small businesses, digital business advisory service to assess digital needs and create bespoke digital business action plans.

$21.9 million will be used to complete a new system to support the $8.4 billion per annum operational funding payments for schools and early learning services administered by the Ministry of Education. 

A modern resourcing system will be built to transform education funding processes from 30-year-old high-risk systems and manual processes to simple, easy-to-use and easy-to-understand, accurate, largely automatic and timely processes.

$12.7 million will ensure continued supply of digital devices and applications to principals and teachers to in turn provide online learning opportunities to ākonga/learners, especially as the sector manages through COVID-19. 

"This funding will aim to achieve as close to 100 percent uptake as possible for eligible principals and teachers and ease the costs to schools and kura that cannot provide devices through their technology budgets.

$15 million will fund an upgrade to the existing software used by Education Payroll Limited and fund the Ministry of Education’s programme costs associated with historic non-compliance of the Holidays Act 2003.

This supports the delivery of the schools’ payroll system that pays almost 100,000 teachers and support staff every fortnight with: an annual spend of $5.6 billion . 

"This funding ensures the ongoing stability and sustainability of the schools’ payroll system," the Budget stated.

$700 million will fund priority capital projects within the health sector and support the delivery of healthcare by providing facilities, infrastructure and technology that can appropriately meet current and future demand.

$10 million of funding will maintain SmartStart and associated Life Events services, to ensure they remain accessible to users. 

SmartStart is an online tool for parents and caregivers providing a central location to access trusted government information and support related to pregnancy and the early stages of childhood development and streamlining the delivery of government services and processes when applying for birth-related service.

$1.3 million will provide a strategic, coordinated approach to data and insights to support ongoing systemic change to eliminate family and sexual violence. The Family Violence and Sexual Violence Joint Venture will review how the government contracts its family violence and sexual violence research provision to create a collaborative and transformative research agenda, and increased investment in this research agenda.

$20.9 million goes to Te Tumu Paeroa (TTP), the largest single administrator of whenua Māori. This will enable TTP, the Māori Trustee, to improve its technology systems, which will help it address increasing service demand from approximately 100,000 owners of whenua Māori and 2000 Māori land trusts and entities. 

"IT infrastructure and systems improvement will address critical areas of security and privacy, needed for TTP to carry out its statutory and fiduciary functions," the Budget said. 

$16 million was voted to provide funding to continue Oranga Tamariki’s corporate systems replacement efforts. 

This programme will replace high-risk and obsolete finance, human resources and payroll technologies and deliver transformational improvements. It will also allow for the technological separation from the Ministry of Social Development for these systems.

$34.8 million continues the replacement of the Ministry of Social Development’s financial management and payroll systems, reducing operational risk. 

A $113.2 million capital injection enables the Civil Aviation Authority to continue with planned upgrades to Aviation Security Infrastructure, replace and upgrade CAA’s regulatory technology platform and replace other critical infrastructure.

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