Govt's digital 'tech wrecks' to be scrutinised

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Govt's digital 'tech wrecks' to be scrutinised

Labor gets its inquiry.

The senate has approved a push by the Labor party for an inquiry to be conducted into the government's digital transformation efforts in the wake of a series of damaging technology bungles.

Shadow minister for the digital economy Ed Husic earlier this week called for the finance and public administration committee to scrutinise the handful of high-profile "tech wrecks" that have occured over the past year.

He also asked for an explanation on the government's plans to boost its IT spend to $10 billion, over $3 billion more than last year.

The senate last night approved his request, meaning the likes of the eCensus failure, Centrelink robo-debt program, the ditching of gov.au, and ongoing ATO website crashes will undergo public scrutiny.

The committee has been tasked with investigating the digital delivery of government services with particular reference to whether existing and planned programs are properly considering the privacy, security, quality, reliability, and value for money aspects of these programs.

It will also study project governance, design and build of platforms, skills availability, and procurement.

A report is due to be tabled on December 4.

"At a time when education and health funding are being cut savagely it is critical to make sure the $10 billion spent on digital transformation is value for money," Husic and committee chair Jenny McAllister said in a statement.

"The inquiry will be at its most productive if the government adopts an open and transparent attitude. Labor agrees with the views expressed by the CPSU that this inquiry should not be used to scapegoat public servants and we welcome the DTA CEO Gavin Slater’s public statements indicating he will cooperate with the inquiry."

Digital transformation minister Angus Taylor labelled the inquiry "a waste of taxpayers' money".

He said the Digital Transformation Agency was finalising a review of more than 50 major IT projects and 250 critical systems, and noted that the DTA had an internal remediation and review function that is being applied to all new and existing projects.

“Review and remediation are critical to government continuing to improve its delivery of simple and effective digital services,” Taylor said in a statement.

“The government has established unprecedented visibility and oversight of its $6.5 billion annual IT spend." 

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