AU$7.4 billion tied up in active Australian government IT projects

The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) in early 2017 was charged with looking into the structures of existing Australian government high-cost technology projects over AU$10 million.

Previously, the agency would provide status reports on these projects but that information is no longer provided freely.

Documents received by ZDNet under freedom of information (FOI) in January revealed there were 62 active tech-related projects above AU$10 million underway by the federal government, but the details surrounding how much has been spent to date — and how many of the projects went above the budgeted amount — were refused under the FOI.

See also: Government IT projects failing as DTA’s phone calls go unanswered

In its Annual Report 2019-20 [PDF] published this week, the DTA revealed the total amount of funds tied up in government IT projects, although that figure only accounts for funds as of January 2020.

As of January, AU$7.4 billion was tied up in active government IT projects. AU$1.5 billion was also listed as the value for new proposals.

There were 36 agencies engaged with on 50 digital and IT-enabled initiatives and 26 agencies engaged with on 48 in-flight projects.

“We engaged with 26 entities on 48 in-flight projects and related activities to promote better practice project management methods and support project teams to realise intended benefits,” the DTA added under the header of in-flight achievements related to its target of providing advice and guidance on design and delivery of digital and IT projects.

“We engaged regularly with departments and agencies seeking advice, guidance and support for their efforts to apply the Digital Service Standard and the service design and delivery process to their service transformation efforts.”

The DTA also said, under achievements, that it has continued its work with agencies and provided independent assurance for major digital investments as part of the AU$500 million Australian Public Service (APS) Modernisation Fund.

“During the year, we also engaged with 25 agencies on 21 strategic digital and ICT forums, designed to maintain and build on inter-departmental relationships,” it added.

According to the DTA, its purpose is to “lead digital transformation in government to make services simple, smart, and user-focused” and its mission is to “encourage coordinated investment in digital services, assist to transform the user experience for individuals and business, and improve the return on information and communications technology and digital investment”.

Overall, the DTA said it achieved its planned priorities for the year, which fell under four areas: Delivering whole-of-government strategies, policies, and advice to support the government’s digital and IT agenda; designing, delivering, and supporting common government-wide platforms and services that enable digital transformation; delivering a program of digital and IT capability improvement, including sourcing, to enhance capability and skills across the APS; and driving collaboration and partnerships to enable and accelerate the digital transformation of government services.

The DTA also touted 800 people participated in APS digital and IT capability training.

According to the agency, there are 18.7 million active myGov accounts and 1.4 million users of digital identity for 70 government services.

See also: MyGov website down as Aussies flock to sign up for COVID-19 income support

There were also 29 million visits to australia.gov.au — the government’s coronavirus information hub — from March to June this year. Meanwhile, there have been 4 million downloads of the COVID-19 information app and the government’s COVIDSafe app boasts around 6.5 million registered users.

“[australia.gov.au] was developed in just over a day and has had more than 29 million visits,” the DTA wrote. 

“We developed the government’s WhatsApp channel in just under a week. This has more than a million users. And we built the Coronavirus Australia information app and the COVIDSafe tracing app in just three weeks.”

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