The Department of Defence has selected Accenture as the system integrator for its overhaul of the country’s core security vetting IT systems under a new $114.2 million contract.
The deal will see the IT services firm upgrade the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency’s (AGSVA) systems over the next four-and-a-half years as part of Defence’s so-called ‘vetting transformation project’.
AGSVA was established as a business unit within the department in 2010 to oversee centrally administered personnel security clearances on behalf of 570 government agencies and industry bodies.
The vetting transformation – or ICT2270 as it is known in military circles – began in 2017 to implement a suite of reforms to improve government agencies’ management of threats posed by malicious insiders.
The reforms followed a scathing 2015 audit, which revealed AGSVA systems - ePack2 and the personnel security assessment management system (PSAMS2) - were inadequate for vetting processes.
This was despite an earlier $37 million investment by Defence to upgrade both systems, which are used for case management and the online submission of security vetting packs.
Under ICT2270, Defence is expected to establish a more automated and efficient vetting service, allowing sponsoring entities to log into a secure portal to access risk notices where they exist.
Having achieved first pass approval in April 2018, Defence went looking for a system integrator in October 2018, though was waiting for second pass approval before moving forward.
A spokesperson told iTnews the project received second pass approval in December 2020, the same month the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) released its second follow-up audit into vetting.
The audit follows an equally critical initial follow-up audit from ANAO in 2018, which found “AGSVA’s security vetting services do not effectively mitigate the government’s exposure to insider threats”.
A joint committee of public accounts and audit review recommended in 2019 that the government “expedite” ICT2270, which the most recent audit reveals Defence dismissed.
“Defence … did not agree to implement the first, substantive, component of the recommendation, namely to expedite the vetting transformation project,” the 2020 audit said.
At the time, initial operating capability for ICT2270 was expected to be achieved in late 2022, followed final operating capability (FOC) in 2023, though the new deal with Accenture suggests it will be more like 2024 or 2025 that FOC is reached.
The audit also shows that the project’s budget has also increased by approximately $4 million between April 2018 and April 2020.
“Acquisition and capability development costs for ICT2270 were estimated at $154 million at first pass in April,” ANAO said.
“The Defence Force Structure Plan 2020… included $159.16 million for vetting transformation capital.”
A total of $245.5 million has been set aside in the integrated investment program for ICT2270.