South Australia’s Public Sector Minister, Susan Close, has publicly apologised for the poor handling of a day-long outage which shut down the state’s vehicle registration system.
Close yesterday read out a statement in the state’s parliament acknowledging that the government’s response to the outage “was not adequate” and promised that its communications strategy was “being reviewed so that we have an improved response should a similar event occur in the future”.
Last week, the government’s TRUMPS licensing and vehicle registration system went offline as a result of a glitch during regular systems maintenance being undertaken by the contractor of the system.
The outage forced Service SA centres – the government’s customer service shopfronts – to close for the day. It also affected the EzyReg online registration solution, which experienced glitches until 2pm in the afternoon.
Users who tried to pay their rego and licence renewal fees online during the affected period also reported that fees were withdrawn from their bank accounts each time they unsuccessfully attempted to process the transaction online.
The network was up and running by 9:00 am the next day, but the government was criticised for its failure to communicate the outage widely enough, leading to confusion and queues in front of closed Service SA centres.
“I apologise to everyone who was affected by this disruption and assure the House that every single person adversely affected will be assisted to resolve their problem,” Close said.
“I recognise that there will be some people who have been inconvenienced by not receiving sufficient notice that the system was down and centres were closed.”
She conceded that while “computer systems will fail,” the government's priority "needs to be the customer".
"People need to be informed as soon as possible when these events occur so that they can make alternative arrangements and the inconvenience is minimised as much as possible," Close said.
“We will be learning lessons from this week's events and [will] put in place plans to improve communications.”
She also sought to reassure over-charged customers that there money would be returned.
“TRUMPS completed reconciling transactions overnight and anyone who had more than one amount debited from their account had the overpaid amount refunded to their financial institution for processing by that bank or credit union,” she said.
Anyone who continued to be out of pocket should contact her office directly, the Minister advised.
Registration systems outages are not an uncommon headache for Australian governments. NSW’s Roads and Maritime Services suffered a similar IT failure in January, while Victoria has been struggling to replace its own Roads and Licensing (RandL) system for years.