While all eyes were on the top line investments and tax cuts in this year’s budget, departmental line items reveal significant investment in core IT systems and espcially in government information security.
One big winner was the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), which gained a 20% budget increase from just over $40 million to $48.9 million. The New Zealand Police was also granted a further $1 million to enhance IS system security.
Last year GCSB announced that the New Zealand government had been the target of hacking attempts by overseas governments.
Spending on the National Health Information Service has been boosted from $65.4 million to nearly $79 million, delivering on signals the Minister of Health, David Cunliffe, gave before the Budget.
Cunliffe said he wanted the Ministry of Health to take more of a leadership position in delivering health ICT.
Among other ICT-related votes, the government has budgeted $7 million over three years to build New Zealand’s 3D digital graphics development cluster, $3 million in the first year and $2 million for each of the following two years.
Internal Affairs was voted $6.7 million to cover its Passport Redevelopment System.
In addition to its security funding, the New Zealand Police was also voted $3 million to reimburse telecommunications providers for costs incurred in complying with the Telecommunications (Interception Capability) Act 2004 and $15 million for the replacement of its radio network. A further $1 million was budgeted for its “Car as a Station” project to fit police cars with new ICT technologies.
However, the big item in this year’s budget for the ICT sector was undoubtedly the broadband investment, made in response to National’s $1.5 billion plan. The government is investing $500 million over five years for fast broadband as part of what it describes as the “first five-year downpayment for a 10-year plan”. The new Broadband Investment Fund was granted $325 million for operating and $15 million capital funding over that period.
Operating funding of $250 million over five years has been earmarked for delivering high bandwidth services to businesses and users in the health and education sectors, described as “urban” investment. $75 million over five years has been set aside to extend broadband into “underserved regions” with a further $15 million to support another international cable.
Health, education and other public service sectors have been voted $160 million over five years for enhanced networks. Finally, $9.4 million went to support the Digital Strategy 2.0 and the new Digital Development Council and Forum.