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Senate inquiry set to put Govt tech projects under the spotlight

Senate inquiry set to put Govt tech projects under the spotlight

Labor's push for a Senate inquiry goes ahead

The Federal Government's portfolio of digital transformation projects will be brought under the microscope in a Senate inquiry, with a report due in December.

This comes on the back of Labor’s push for the Senate to look into the current government’s digital transformation blunders, such as the Census failure, abandoning the GOV.AU project, repeated ATO website crashes, the NAPLAN online failure, and others.

Labor Senator Jenny McAllister, said the Senate needs to examine why so many projects have failed, been cancelled or crashed, and what can be done to put the vital work of digital transformation at the centre of government.

“As governments across the globe embrace the use of digital platforms to deliver efficient online services, Australia can’t afford to be left behind,” McAllister said.

The inquiry will pay particular reference to current and planned programs in regards to privacy, security, quality and reliability, and value for money.

It will also look into strategies for whole-of-government digital transformation, digital project delivery, including project governance, design and build of platforms, the adequacy of available capabilities and procurement of digital services and equipment.

Responding to Labor's calls, Liberal Senator, James McGrath, said in parliament that the government opposed the motion because it would result in an unnecessary use of time and money for the committee. 

Indeed, the government already initiated a review of all large IT projects worth more than $10 million back in February that also includes all critical business systems.

At the time, Assistant minister for Digital Transformation, Angus Taylor, said this review would provide visibility and centralised management of IT projects.

"The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) will ensure we're investing in the right technology projects, we can track their implementation, and know they will deliver on the public policy benefits they promise," Taylor said at the time.

Regardless, Labor's push for a full-blown inquiry into the government's spending on such tech projects has been approved.

One of the most notorious IT mishaps suffered by the Government in recent times was the Census debacle last year involving IBM, where the 2016 Census website was taken offline after experiencing Denial of Service (DoS) attacks.

Earlier this year, HPE was also under the spotlight when the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) took its services offline after experiencing major storage infrastructure failure and subsequent systems outages.

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