New South Wales has demanded the immediate payment of more than $40 million owed by the federal government under a school computer program.
The NSW education minister Adrian Piccoli wrote to his federal counterpart Peter Garrett on Wednesday to warn him a failure to pay would force the program to end a year earlier than agreed, triggering the sacking of 610 public school-based technology support officers.
The angry letter prompted fresh assurances from the Gillard government that the payments under the Digital Education Revolution scheme were imminent.
Mr Piccoli said the dispute centred on the federal government’s failure to make payments of $20.1 million linked to progress reports of July last year and January this year.
”That is, a total of $40,245,000 is currently due to be paid to NSW, half of which is now at least six months overdue,” he wrote.
Mr Piccoli gave formal notice of the dispute and demanded payment by February 28, or he would esclate the matter to the Council of Australian Governments.
Mr Garrett replied that the July progress report had now been accepted and the first payment for 2012-13, $20.1 million, would be made in the next payment cycle on March 7.
Mr Garrett’s office said progress reports revealed that as of July, the NSW government had nearly $63 million of unspent Digital Education Revolution funding in reserve.
In the letter of reply, Mr Garrett said the accrual of funds came through economies of scale and because the unit price of devices had fallen in the five years the agreement had been active.
”These factors, together, demonstrate that the cost of sustainment is less in 2013 than it was when the [Digital Education Revolution National Partnership] was signed,” he said.
The Digital Education Revolution agreement, struck in 2009, aimed to improve learning in schools by upgrading technology, connecting optic-fibre, training teachers in IT, providing online resources and connecting parents to their children’s lessons online.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.