PM’s Department chases funding for CABNET redevelopment

Plans are underway to redevelop the Federal Government’s CabNet system, the secure platform used to transmit cabinet documents between Ministers and senior bureaucrats.

The current system is “no longer meeting users’ expectations of a modern IT system,” according to the minutes of the latest meeting of the Secretaries Information Governance Board (SIGB).

The agency in charge of managing and maintaining CabNet, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C), is currently working on a business case for the redevelopment which it will submit to Treasury in an attempt to secure funding.

If it is successful, the project could receive an allocation in the 2013-14 Federal Budget which will be released in May next year. An approach to market for any services required to support the project would likely take place 6-12 months after this.

Up until October 2011 CSC held the key contract for up-keep of the system. It signed a $1.7 million deal with PM&C in 2006 for support, maintenance and enhancement services for CabNet, which has since expired. It was awarded $2 million worth of CabNet business prior to this contract being signed.

PM&C manages the system according to a cost recovery model.  Federal agencies pay a fee of between $11,000 and $25,400 per annum for the use and maintenance of specialist computer terminals and printers which facilitate access to the system. Intermedium’s contract database shows that the Department has received $1.2 million from agencies since 2006.

CabNet was launched in 1998, based on a Lotus Notes messaging platform. It underwent its first redevelopment in 2003, which included an upgrade of the supporting server infrastructure and the addition of a separated database for the National Security Committee.

While it is not clear exactly what the redevelopment will entail, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy, told the Australian Financial Review earlier this year that a program was underway that would allow him to access cabinet documents on his iPad.

“We are working through that issue,” he told the newspaper.

In its 16 August meeting the SIGB also endorsed a fee for service funding model for the Parliamentary Workflow System and a timeline for a whole-of-government transition to the system which will see all applicable agencies on board by the end of June 2016.

The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations has been appointed lead agency for the roll-out of the system, and received the bulk of five-year, $10.3 million allocation in the 2012-13 Budget for its establishment.

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