The Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) is moving to address weaknesses in its ability to meet financial management requirements through the adoption of a budget management and forecasting software suite.
The new commercial off the shelf software suite will help redress procedural inefficiencies, usability deficiencies, and provide increased flexibility and integration with reporting tools. The software will also promote greater use of the budgeting tool and assist in alignment with the Australian National Audit Office better practice recommendations.
According to DoHA documents, the department currently relies on Microsoft Excel to manage departmental and administered budgets and its internal allocation, monitoring and reporting.
"The Department does not have an integrated budget and forecasting system within their existing systems suite and hence has had to resort to excel workbooks as an interim work-around in order to record and report budget and forecasting information," the documents read.
"Additionally, the Department lacks a departmental capital budgeting tool. There is currently an over-reliance on division-specific excel spread sheets that are used to manage significant levels of funding provided by Government. This current state is viewed as a critical risk factor."
The new system, to be implemented over a nine-month period, will improve efficiency of the Department's financial management by automating a number of manual processes.
The system is also expected to eliminate the requirement for the disparate system that is currently used and provide better integration, improve data integrity, increase accountability and auditability of budget processes.
According to the DoHA documents, the core department at the heart of DoHA has a budget of $579 million and employs approximately 4,500 full-time employees. The department oversees 43 administered programs which include 270 'budget reporting elements' on behalf of the government and four budget updates throughout the financial year.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS), and the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) are also included under DoHA.
NICNAS and OGTR currently use SAP for their financials, but may be included under DoHA's new financials system. The TGA operates its own financials system and will not use the new system.
In April DoHA announced that it had allocated $21 million to the National E-Health Transition Authority's (NEHTA) for the final scope of the national e-health record system.
The final round of funding for the government's $466.7 million Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) project came some four months after its original allocation date in November .