by Tim Lohman

Defence to spend $700m on ICT reform

Jun 05, 20093 mins
GovernmentGovernment ITInnovation

Less than half of the annual $1.2 billion spent by Defence on its ICT is visible to its chief information officer, Greg Farr, a new report has revealed.

Detailing the shortcoming in its Strategic Reform Program Delivering Force 2030 report released earlier this week, Defence said its fragmented ICT environment was resulting in inefficiencies in services delivery.

A $700 million ICT reform program will be initiated to rectify this and build an improved Defence information environment to support both Defence war fighting and business reform objectives through to 2030.

The program, expected to be complete by 2012 and flagged in May, aims to deliver savings and increased effectiveness through a consolidated, standardised Defence Information and Communications Technology environment, with a centralised strategy and governance framework, according to the report.

“Through this investment, savings of $1.9 billion over the decade and around $250 million per annum thereafter would be achieved,” the report said.

The high level of investment was needed to address the chronic under-funding of its ICT systems, which the report claims has exposed Defence to a high level of risk.

“There is an urgent need to address long-term underinvestment in Information and Communications Technology infrastructure that has resulted in a significant proportion of Defence assets being beyond their effective life,” the report said.

“As a consequence, Defence is now dealing with an unacceptable level of fragility, cost and risk to Information and Communications Technology operations.”

Defence has flagged that the reform program will also seek to align ICT with Defence priorities via a single portfolio of investments. Tighter cost control, new sourcing strategies and standardising and consolidating assets will be implemented across all parts of Defence to reduce high ‘business as usual’ costs.

Faster decision and delivery cycles will be implemented, fragile ICT infrastructure will be reduced to help mitigate an ‘unacceptable’ business continuity risk and data centres will be consolidated to reduce maintenance costs.

Defence also intends to lift its governance and business processes to enable the delivery of a more cost-effective and adaptable Defence science and technology capability. It will also form an external advisory board, technology roadmap and ear-mark funds for its Science and Technology Organisation.

In the report, Defence also detailed a number of specific overhaul measures including basing its information environment on one network connecting fixed and deployed locations built on a single set of standards and products.

“It will encompass all security levels and will determine that the right person has the right authority to access information,” the report said. “A typical desktop set up available to all Defence sites will be a single screen connected to a wireless network that can display multiple security sessions. Secure voice and video will be available to the desktop in most fixed and deployed locations.”

Defence will also integrate its battlefield information systems to give deployed commanders and decision makers a single view of the ‘battle space’ through a Common Operating Picture accessing a wide range of data from sensors and sources.

New capabilities such as the automation of procurement, personnel and pay administration, vetting, recruitment, estate management and performance reporting will be progressively introduced, the report said.

Finance, payroll and personnel information will also be made more accessible, and easier to manipulate and aggregate by authorised Defence staff.