MYEFO: Government funds work on Medicare payments, ATO resilience

Funds also allocated to hosting strategy

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The government’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) reveals that an additional $36.3 million (including $12.8 million in capital funding) is being put towards maintaining the Medicare payments system.

The funds, allocated to Services Australia, will “ensure that the Government continues to own and operate the ICT systems that deliver Medicare, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, Aged Care and related payments into the future,” the MYEFO states.

The 2018-19 federal budget included $106.8 million over four years to modernise the health and aged care payment systems.

“This measure includes funding for replacing and decommissioning ageing ICT systems, upgrading cyber security, and introducing user experience improvements for consumers and providers of health and aged care services,” budget documents stated.

The project’s initial phase of work began on 1 July 2018.

The Health Delivery Modernisation Project includes four work streams, according to Services Australia’s 2018-19 annual report. One is replacing and “replacing and redeveloping health and aged care legacy system components into stable and supportable technology platforms”.

Another is a simplification effort to consolidate databases and deliver a single source of truth for customer and health care professional records. The third is focused on security, including logging and authentication. The final stream is focused on UI improvements.

(Last month the government revealed that Infosys would be charged with delivering a new Entitlement Calculation Engine for Centrelink based on Pegasystems’ Pega platform. That project is part of the government’s mammoth Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation, WPIT, program.)

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will receive $150.8 million over three years to “improve its data storage and resilience of its security system,” the MYEFO states. The Department of Finance also received $500,000 for “assurance reviews” as part of the measure.

“The Government provided the ATO with $70 million in Budget 2019 and additional funding of $150.4 million over three years from 2019-20 to 2021-22,” an ATO spokesperson said.

“This funding has been provided to assist the ATO uplift its hosting capability and ICT infrastructure to support the growing digital workload supporting Australian businesses and tax payers.

“The funding provided will be used for a number of activities which include reviewing its current hosting providers, increasing cyber security and sourcing new infrastructure and software to manage ATO’s data holdings.”

The government said it would provide $152.7 million over four years from 2019-20 for cyber security initiatives, with much of the cost being met with funds already allocated to the Department of Defence.

The measures include new specialist cyber security positions within government and the Australian Defence Force, scholarships and training, targeted security assistance (to “small business, older Australians and families”), and “enhancing the cyber security of voter information”.

Digital ID

The MYEFO also reveals that the government will put $25 million over two years, from 2019-20, to digital initiatives. That includes $19.1 million for developing the “protected utility platform” and implementing the government’s hosting strategy.

That strategy, developed by the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA), includes a new certification scheme for data centres used by government agencies.

In addition, a further $5.9 million is being put towards the government’s digital ID program, GovPass.

The government will put $26.9 million over four years to establishing the Data Platforms Unit within the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), and $1.7 million towards reviewing the Privacy Act. Both measures are part of the government’s response to the ACCC’s digital platforms inquiry.

The ACCC is also receiving additional funds for its work on the Consumer Data Right (CDR), including working on testing and assurance with financial institutions ahead of the debut of Open Banking in 2020.

Negotiations on the quantity of funding have not yet been completed, the government said. The CSIRO, whose Data61 unit is working on the CDR, will also receive additional funding.

Some $15 million is going towards a pilot of a national disability data asset — an initiative of the COAG Australian Data and Digital Council.

“The National Disability Data Asset will bring together de-identified data from the Commonwealth, states and territories to provide information on how people with disability are supported through services, payments and other programs,” the MYEFO states.

“The pilot of the Asset will include data from the Commonwealth, New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.”

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority has been allocated $12 million in 2019-20 to help it manage “the regulation and associated compliance of commercial drone technologies in Australia.” CASA has been developing a drone registration and accreditation system.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
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