The federal government expects to approach potential buyers of its secure Canberra agency-to-agency fibre network ICON as soon as June this year.
The potential privatisation of the network was first made public in December's mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (MYEFO). The Government hopes it can use the sale to inject much-needed revenue back into its debt reduction program.
The Intra-Government Communications Network (ICON) is made up of 150,000km of fibre connecting 400 government buildings and 80 agencies throughout the ACT. It is accredited to carry information up to the ‘protected’ classification without encryption.
During March and April, the Department of Finance plans to commission a business advisor to scope its options for the future ownership of ICON, including any potential impacts on customers, industrial issues likely to impact current ICON employees, ways to minimise residual liabilities to the government, and how to get the best financial outcome for the government.
The report is expected to pay particular attention to assessing whether a third party will be able to maintain a level of data protection "appropriate for the Government’s security requirements" when transferring data between geographically separate locations.
Finance is currently inviting bids for organisations interested in conducting the review.
Contingent on the findings of the report, which is due at the end of April, the department will move ahead with sounding out possible buyers as early as June.
ICON is currently run by a unit within Finance, which delivers connectivity to agencies on a cost recovery basis.