Jobs are safe at City Hall despite a “digital transformation project” that promises nearly $34 million in savings, according to a senior executive.
Council voted last week to fund the project, which would cost $20.5 million over four years but deliver a “net benefit” of $19.5 million by 2028.
The project would mean fewer new jobs at City Hall without costing any existing positions, said finance and strategy director Michael Dugina.
“The savings refer to efficiencies that can be gained by using new technology and streamlining our processes.
“This means we won’t need to recruit as many new people each year, while still catering for our growing population.”
The project would “improve processes for our community and for the organisation,” Mr Dugina said.
“At this early stage of the Digital Transformation we are assessing which services will be part of the program. However, payments and permit applications are natural inclusions.
“A number of our services are very manual for customers and City staff and therefore can be quite time consuming. We are considering what the community expects from council services and working to improve their experience.”
“We will continue to offer alternative options for people without computer or internet access.”
After last week’s vote City Hall released a statement that many of its processes remained “paper-based” while others relied on ageing, outdated technology.
The $20.5 million funding would “replace all of the City’s core business processes and supporting business applications”.
The program would assess existing online services then “look at” developing automated replacements.
Some of the expected benefits included “an increased level and quality of service for a reduced cost”, the City said.
The project was “very important”, Mayor Bruce Harwood said, “and in a manner that meets the needs of our community and the organisation into the future”.
“The digital transformation will make it much easier for the community to engage and communicate with the City, and will save both time and money for residents and the City itself.”
Finance portfolio-holder Pat Murnane said “innovative finance and technology” was a priority at City Hall.
“It’s correct to say that our council, like many councils in recent years, has under-invested in technology, Cr Murnane said.
“This investment will change that. And we’re not alone in doing this – other responsible councils have already done it or are planning to do so.
“We recognise that we have some ageing and outdated applications that don’t support online access – an essential service for our community.
“This program will also result in substantial savings over the next 10 years. Whilst an investment of this size is not without risk, the greatest risk for us is to do nothing, or to continue to under-invest and never catch up.”