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Australian Bureau of Statistics to get AU$250m tech boost

30 year old computers are end-of-life, apparently

By Richard Chirgwin, 7 May 2015

If the pre-budget briefings-to-journalists are correct, Big IT is going to be refreshing its tender boilerplates for a lot of work in the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the troubled bureau – which was reportedly considering skipping the next census to save cash – is going to get AU$250 million for a tech refresh.

That fall far short of Centrelink's reported billion-dollar riff, but it'd still be enough to incite a melee over whose rainbow will land on the pot.

According to The Age's economics editor Peter Martin, the quarter-billion will be spent on “the biggest technology upgrade in its 110-year history”.

Martin says the government's razor gang – aka the Expenditure Review Committee – has been told one-third of the agency's 500 separate systems are unreliable, and one-in-six are so old they're on vendors' out-of-support lists. Some of the Bureau's systems are 30 years old and its web site looks to be based on the not-so-modern Notes/Domino platform.

Bureau chief David Kalisch told Fairfax the agency wants to standardise on three platforms: one for data collection, one for processing, and one to deliver its statistical products.

Kalisch also hopes the agency can craft direct connections to other federal government systems (such as the Australian Tax Office) and state systems such as births, deaths and marriages.

With the government funding the refresh, the proposal to stretch Australia's census period to ten years instead of five can be ditched. ®

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