AEC in hiring spree ahead of core systems rebuild

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AEC in hiring spree ahead of core systems rebuild

Moves to bolster IT team from July.

The Australian Electoral Commission has kicked off a hiring spree for digital talent ahead of its once in a generation overhaul of the infrastructure supporting the country's 30-year-old election systems.

The agency posted 17 separate listings on the digital marketplace last week calling for 20 developers, engineers, analysts and other IT specialists in time for the start of next financial year.

The sizable IT recruitment drive - which is unusual for an agency of less than 800 staff -  includes a design lead to support the AEC’s long-overdue legacy systems overhaul for up to two years.

It comes more than a year-and-a-half after the AEC revealed plans for the election systems modernisation program that commissioner Tom Rogers first called for in the wake of the 2016 federal election.

With ageing systems now risking the integrity of Australia’s federal voting system, the overhaul will see the agency replace the 93 systems and supporting subsystems that support elections, as well as supporting mainframe infrastructure. 

Most of the systems, which cover things like the electoral roll and election management, are bespoke and have been developed incrementally over the past 30 years to suit the needs of the agency.

In their place, the agency will create an integrated roll and election management system that can deliver service to both citizens and political parties, and is capable of holding up in an increasingly difficult cyber security environment. 

The design lead will be expected to “drive the design of integrated delivery solutions”, as well as produce frameworks that support those solutions and lead workshops to improve understanding about requirements.

The other 16 digital marketplace listings offer little context about the work the contractors will perform and do not mention the program by name, though most invite only a single seller to submit a candidate for the same two-year period as the design lead.

Roles include applications developer, mainframe developer (x2), .NET developer (x2), senior software engineer, IT service desk analyst, project manager, systems designer and administrator and risk management specialist.

The majority of the listings were published between Tuesday and Wednesday last week and closed on Friday, making the listing more of a formality than a procurement process. The design lead listing closed on June 2.

When asked about the listings, an AEC spokesperson declined to comment on whether any of the listing related to the program, saying only that government funding for the program was still pending.

“The AEC is currently in the process of requesting funding to support the modernisation of core systems,” the spokesperson told iTnews.

“No vendors have been engaged post the initial RFI [request for information]. Information has been used to inform next steps accordingly.”

With at least part of the new system expected to be up and running before the federal election slated for 2022, funding for the project is likely to be contained in the upcoming budget in October.

A further two listings posted to the digital marketplace last week call for business analysts to join the agency’s next generation electronic certified list (next gen ECL) project team. 

The team is “seeking to develop a solution for the deployment of devices … at future electoral events to further extend the reach of the AEC’s existing ECL software”.

“The project will reduce dependence on paper lists and increase the robustness of the voting process,” the listing states.

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