The NSW government is re-gearing its digital restart fund into more of an innovation support mechanism, narrowing the types of projects it backs to those with clear benefits for the community.
The fund has previously been used for a range of digital transformation initiatives, including technology capability uplifts within departments and agencies.
But it appears some of this backend project work is now off the table; the major exceptions are that “projects aimed at reducing cyber security risk”.
The government said it wants to fund projects that have a direct impact on frontline service delivery, including those proposing to use automation, albeit that they should improve “accessibility of government services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, regional, remote and rural communities, seniors, people with a disability, and people experiencing social issues and disadvantage.”
In addition, it wants to back projects that “make it easier, safer, and simpler for frontline and essential workers to deliver services”; that can speed up “the supply of housing and acceleration of the housing planning cycle”; or that drive “more efficient energy use and support biodiversity and the natural environment.”
“I am setting a new direction for the digital restart fund to help us find innovative answers to some of the biggest challenges people in NSW are facing right now,” minister for customer service and digital government Jihad Dib said.
“It makes sense to shift the focus of the fund so it can deliver the most value possible to communities right across the state.”
NSW government agencies “have been asked to submit applications to the [fund] with a focus on the new priority areas,” he added.
The government said the total pot of funding available is $100 million: some $66 million was allocated in the most recent state budget. It’s unclear if the other $34 million is new or leftover from previous budget allocations.