When Parliament isn’t sitting the ministers have time to get some projects under way. But the big item this time is a scathing report on the Digital Transformation Agency. There’s also a new quantum science advisory panel, and AUKUS celebrates it first birthday.
Here’s what I’ve noticed since the previous edition on 10 September.
- The Australian National Audit Office has published a damning report on procurement practices at the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA). In all nine of the high-value procurements examined, processes were “ineffective” and oversight was “weak” and “fell short of ethical requirements”. In the case of the COVIDSafe app, DTA “did not monitor the developer’s performance or consider value for money as the contract more than doubled to $6 million”. One might well wonder what the DTA is actually for. Over at The Mandarin, Julian Bajkowski asks the obvious question: Has the DTA had its day? I daresay we’ll see more on this debacle in the coming weeks.
- The Minister for Industry and Science, Ed Husic, announced the National Quantum Advisory Committee which will “help drive Australia’s National Quantum Strategy”.
- The Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade has begin a routine inquiry in response to the the Defence Industry Security Program Auditor General’s Report. Not an exciting one, but there may be some nasties hiding in the details.
- “Services Australia has increased its courting of people living with autism to fill technology roles, as the Albanese government looks to hire otherwise overlooked talent to replace costly contractors amidst a severe skills shortage.”
- The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s annual report highlighted the systemic issues of dodgy debts and direct debit problems.
- Lockheed Martin Australia has been awarded a $1.18 billion contract to build the Southern Positioning Augmentation Network (SouthPAN), which will increase GPS accuracy across Australia from around 5 to 10 metres down to as little as 10cm.
- “Former CSIRO chair David Thodey will lead an ‘expansive’ audit of the federal government’s myGov digital platform that was an election pledge of the new Labor government.”
- “The Reserve Bank of Australia has substantively shifted its position on how banks and credit card schemes prioritise their products in mobile wallet Apple Pay. The decision means shopkeepers will have a basic choice in what cards they accept.”
- The first Royal Australian Air Force MQ-4C Triton long-range surveillance drone was rolled out.
- And finally, the AUKUS defence technology sharing agreement celebrated its first birthday. Here’s some updates via the Lowy Institute, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, and the ABC. There’s also an interesting observation from the Australian Institute of International Affairs, AUKUS Submarines: A Capability in Search of a Strategy?. A Google news search for stories about AUKUS published this month will reveal a lot more. Meanwhile the Department of Defence announced that it’s offering nuclear scholarships.
Please let me know if I’ve missed anything, or if there’s any specific items you’d like me to follow.
Parliament is sitting Monday to Wednesday in the coming week. Debate will continue on the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (AFP Powers and Other Matters) Bill 2022, which extends certain existing Australian Federal Police powers for another year.
[Update 25 September 2022: The government has decided to Do Something, or rather to be seen to be doing something, about the Optus data breach before we even know what, exactly, happened. The ABC is reporting this: Federal government to unveil new security measures following massive Optus data breach. Sigh.]