ICT Investment Approval Process

If your entity is bringing forward an ICT-enabled proposal for Cabinet consideration you may be subject to the ICT Investment Approval process.

The ICT Investment Approval process (formerly known as the ICT Two Pass Review process) is part of the budget process and is in place to support Cabinet decision making and the successful implementation of ICT-enabled proposals.

Is my proposal in scope?

If you are bringing forward a New Policy Proposal or an internally funded proposal for Cabinet consideration, the ICT Investment Approval process will apply if:

  • your proposal is ICT-enabled – that is the policy or service delivery outcomes are highly dependent on an underpinning ICT system; AND
  • the total whole-of-life cost of your proposal is estimated to be $30 million or more, and this total includes ICT costs of $10 million or more; AND
  • your proposal is high risk – this may be due to the proposal’s complexity, schedule or available workforce capacity. The risk rating for proposals is determined by Finance. 

Note: if your proposal does not meet all of these criteria, your proposal may be subject to the process if requested by Cabinet.

Department of Defence proposals that are not subject to the Defence Capability two-pass (Kinnaird) process may be subject to the ICT Investment Approval process. Please consult with the Investment, Capability and Assurance Branch in the Department of Finance (Finance) to determine if this is the case.

What does the ICT Investment Approval Process involve?

ICT-enabled proposals subject to the ICT Investment Approval process will go through a staged approval process. As a minimum, the stages include:

  • First Pass Cabinet Approval
  • Second Pass Cabinet Approval

As part of both stages you will develop a business case to ensure that Cabinet has enough information about your proposal to make an informed decision.

Please contact your Chief Finance Officer (CFO) unit to ensure that you are aware of and comply with current Finance Estimates Memorandums covering the ICT Investment Approval process and the Budget Process Operational Rules.

Finance can work with you to determine the minimum business case requirements relevant to your proposal. The process is designed to be flexible to cater for different types and complexities of ICT‑enabled proposals that require Cabinet approval. For example, second pass may result in a one off approval process, or for more complex proposals, subsequent stages may be required.

First Pass Cabinet Approval

At first pass, you will explore realistic ICT options to deliver the outcomes of your proposal.

You will develop a first pass business case that will:

  • demonstrate your business needs, policy objectives and how you propose to use ICT;
  • present realistic ICT options to deliver the outcomes of the proposal and strategies to manage any associated risks; and
  • present broad whole-of-life cost estimates and indicative schedules for each option.

The following template is available to help you develop your first pass business case:

Your first pass business case development must be funded through existing entity resources. However, in your first pass proposal, you may include a modest bid for additional funds for activities that will assist you develop your second pass business case. As per Budget rules, the proposal must be fully offset. Refer to the Budget Process Operational Rules for further information.

Once you have developed your first pass business case, your Minister will seek in-principle agreement from Cabinet. If Cabinet provides in-principle approval for your proposal including one or more of your ICT options, you will proceed to second pass to fully develop the option/s for further consideration by Cabinet.

Second Pass Cabinet Approval

At second pass, you will fully develop a business case for the ICT option/s that received in‑principle approval from Cabinet at first pass.

Your second pass business case will provide sufficient detail to inform Cabinet decision-making and to direct the implementation of the proposal. Specifically, in your second pass business case, you will:

  • provide a detailed cost estimate and risk mitigation strategies. You will develop these based on:
    • undertaking rigorous planning of required ICT infrastructure, applications, and support, and
    • proof of concept tests and/or formal approaches to market;
  • detail the lowest risk approach to acquiring and delivering each ICT option; and
  • detail the proposal’s governance arrangements, including how you will monitor and measure progress, address emerging risks, and report progress to Government.

The following template is available to assist you develop your second pass business case:

Once you have developed your second pass business case, your Minister will seek Cabinet’s agreement to proceed with the proposal.

What else should I consider when developing my business cases?

You should also give due regard to the impact of Whole-of-Government ICT Policies, including Cyber Security, when developing your business case.

The Digital Service Standard should also be considered and the Digital Transformation Office contacted as soon as practical when developing a proposal that has service delivery implications. Further information is available on the Digital Transformation Office websiteexternal site.

How do I bring forward a proposal?

You can start the development of your business case at any time. Some proposals will be considered through the Budget process whereas others will be considered separately.

If your proposal is being considered within the budget process, you can find the relevant deadlines and the Budget Process Timetable in the Budget Process Operational Rules – your Chief Finance Officer (CFO) unit will be able to provide you a copy.

If your proposal is being considered outside of the Budget process, you must submit to Finance a draft business case at least seven weeks prior to the date of the Cabinet meeting, and a final business case at least one week prior to circulating the Cabinet Submission for coordination comments.

The Investment, Capability and Assurance Branch in the Department of Finance manages the ICT Investment Approval process. We can help you as you develop your business case to ensure it meets the requirements and provides Cabinet with the best information possible to support their decision.

You will need to submit your draft and final ICT Investment Approval process Business Cases via CABNET to:

Assistant Secretary
Investment, Capability and Assurance Branch
Governance and APS Transformation Business Group
Department of Finance

You are encouraged to engage with both the Investment, Capability and Assurance Branch and your Agency Advice Unit in the Department of Finance as early as possible about your proposal to facilitate early feedback and guidance.

What happens after I submit my proposal?

Once you submit your business case, Finance will review your proposal and business case.

You will be provided with feedback and guidance about any refinements or changes that may be necessary to ensure your business case meets the requirements of the ICT Investment Approval process and provides Cabinet with the best information possible to support their decision. This may result in multiple draft business cases being submitted for review prior to finalisation.

Finance will inform you when your business case meets the requirements of the ICT Investment Approval process and is ready for Cabinet consideration.

Any funding agreed to by Cabinet through either the first pass business case (modest funding to assist in the development of a two pass business case) or the second pass business case (funding to implement the proposal) can only be released to your entity through either the Budget or the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO). This may mean that there is a gap between the release of funding to your agency and when you need to undertake the required work. It is anticipated that agencies will use their existing resources flexibly to undertake any required work until the additional funding is released by Government. Should this present challenges, Finance is happy to discuss this with your CFO.

How does the ICT Investment Approval process align with the Gateway Review Process?

The ICT Investment Approval Process complements the Gateway Review Process for ICT-enabled proposals.

The difference between these processes is that the ICT Investment Approval process is designed to inform Cabinet prior to an investment decision. The Gateway Review Process on the other hand is designed to help the delivery agency by providing independent advice through development and implementation of the project or programme. Refer to the Gateway Review page for further information.

If your proposal is subject to both Gateway and the ICT Investment Approval process, to prevent the need for agencies to undergo two approval and assurance processes at the same time, the requirement to conduct the Gateway Gate 0 and 1 reviews is not mandatory.

You should refer to the current Finance Estimates Memorandums covering Assurance Reviews and Budget Process Operational Rules, available through your CFO unit.

The following flowchart shows the alignment between the ICT Investment Approval Process and the Gateway Review Process.

Where can I find additional information?

There are a range of Frequently Asked Questions that you may find helpful. You should read these in conjunction with associated Estimates Memoranda, Budget Process Operational Rules and the ICT Business Case guide:

If you have any queries concerning the process or its application to particular ICT-enabled proposals, please contact the Investment, Capability and Assurance Branch by emailing ictadvice@finance.gov.au or calling (02) 6215 2700. 

Contact for information on this page: ictadvice@finance.gov.au.

Last updated: 28 January 2016