Budget 2019: Opportunity and risk in govt IT programs
In addition to measures aimed at boosting innovation and digital skills in the private sector and wider community, the federal government’s 2019–20 Budget also includes efforts designed to improve digital programs within the public sector.
Below, we’ve gathered some commentary from industry experts regarding some of those programs and their perceived effectiveness.
Craig Howe, Managing Director–APAC at Contino, said that “Digital investment is always about removing friction” and so from a citizen’s perspective, “the additional $67.1 million allocated to the GovPass program, the government’s digital ID project, will be welcomed to speed up interactions with government services, which have traditionally been quite laborious”.
“If executed well, streamlined services such as the MyGovID project will create substantial cost savings and help propel Australia further towards a digital future,” he added.
However, Howe pointed out that the government “must work hard to build trust in the system”.
“To do this, the government must provide a clear opt-in/op-out process, optimise the service across all platforms (mobile, web, tablet etc) and, most importantly, build awareness through widespread education on its value and applications,” he said.
“Without this, uptake will remain low, and the service risks becoming yet another capability that is superseded before it’s begun.”
Trust in another government process, elections, is another priority item, according to Tenable’s ANZ Country Manager, Bede Hackney.
The government is to spend an as-yet-unspecified amount on improving cybersecurity preparedness for the forthcoming federal election, such as upgrading the Electoral Commission’s core infrastructure.
“The threat of a major cyber attack in Australia cannot be overstated,” Hackney said. “This funding will bolster Australia’s cybersecurity capability and go a long way in delivering the solutions which ensure the safety of its businesses and citizens.
“Cybersecurity must be a strategic focus and the government should be commended for acting now.”
Michael Devlin, Managing Partner at Certus3, agreed.
“For all these programs to be as successful as they can be, there needs to be a strong focus on putting strategies in place to measure the potential risk and ongoing success of any digital transformation,” he said.
“The more we spend on digital, the more the public will want to see results,” Devlin added. “Government agencies have a good opportunity to showcase how well they manage project spending by communicating their strategies to measure outcomes.”
His thoughts are echoed by Simon Howe, APAC Sales Director for LogRhythm.
“This year’s Budget underscores the importance of managing security risks. Extra funding to boost agency capability when it comes to meeting an increasing risk from cyber theft and espionage will go a long way to reducing risk,” he said.
“Risk factors can be identified with better and more timely data analysis. Everything from behavioural analysis to trending targets can be identified, review and ‘de-risked’ with better intelligence,” Howe added.
The increased emphasis on security within government systems is also a golden opportunity for Australian technology businesses to not only showcase their ability to supply solutions to government, but also to boost those businesses’ commercial prospects, according to several industry leaders.
Laura Doonin, Director at Moustache Republic, said, “This year’s Budget has a big emphasis on increasing cybersecurity capability and numerous digital transformation programs. These investments present a good opportunity for local companies to deliver technologies and services to assist with the changes.
“By starting with local opportunities, Australian companies can develop world-leading solutions which are applicable to any global company. Let’s use government incentives as a starting point for technology development,” she said.
“This is particularly true for small- and medium-sized businesses such as retailers with a focus on digital. With the right support and economic development infrastructure, businesses can go global through innovation.”
Michael Warnock, Australia Country Manager for Aura Information Security, has a similar outlook, noting that the “$570 million cyber spending boost for ASIO and the Australian Federal Police will flow on to other areas of the economy”.
“For example, requirements for anti-drone technology for the AFP and AI technology for ASIO could be met with local suppliers,” he said.
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