Inside the DTA's $6bn govt IT watchlist

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Inside the DTA's $6bn govt IT watchlist

Not all agencies play ball.

The Digital Transformation Agency is monitoring 55 Commonwealth IT projects worth a collective $5.7 billion alongside a further 294 critical business systems, but has struggled to get 11 government agencies on board its watchlist program.

The DTA's new investment management office (DIMO) was tasked in February with compiling a list of government IT projects worth more than $10 million by the middle of this year.

It asked all government agencies to provide a self-assessment of initiatives above that threshold.

The resulting 'digital investment review' - not yet made public - outlines the costs, benefits, risks, and status of all reported initiatives, as well as other "critical" IT projects or systems.

It categorises projects into three tiers: engage, monitor, and observe. 'Engage' projects are deemed the most risky and are subject to "active management" by the DTA.

The DTA has now revealed the value of the 55 projects but did not put a figure on the further 294 critical business systems identified in the process.

It also revealed that it had come up against a wall trying to get information from 11 of the 92 Commonwealth agencies.

The likes of ASIO, ASIS, the OAIC, ASADA and APRA alongside seven other smaller agencies were still yet to respond to the request for information, the DTA said.

Projects listed in the review have been categorised into ten separate areas including service delivery, collection of revenue, and payments management, among others.

Big tech fails not included

Some of the biggest government technology failures to have occurred in the past year are not included in the digital investment review, the DTA revealed.

The likes of the Centrelink robo-debt program and ongoing ATO website crashes - arguably the two biggest government IT controversies to make headlines this year - have not been assessed by the investment management office.

"Neither the ATO website nor the Centrelink robo-debt were projects at the time of the digital investment review and were therefore not reported or assessed," the DTA said.

It did not specifically mention whether the eCensus - which is being reworked with the help of KPMG after the disastrous 2016 national survey - had been included in the review, but it is understood that the DTA has visibility of the 2021 eCensus project.

However, it did reveal that the online NAPLAN project has been assessed and listed in the 'engage' category - where the most risky projects are placed.

NAPLAN co-ordinator ACARA is working to have all schools on the online platform for the national numeracy and literacy test by 2019.

It had planned to complete the move this year but was set back when all schools across the country abandoned trials of NAPLAN online in April over concerns about platform stability and schools' technical capabilities.

ACARA is currently conducting "readiness tests" with schools to assess their preparedness for a shift to the online platform, despite teachers calling for the project to be scrapped.

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