In other public sector ICT and digital news for the 29th of June
Census data is out, public sector workers are on strike, a cabinet reshuffle in Victoria, a flurry of audit report releases, a quantum computing breakthrough, and even a NASA rocket launch, welcome to this week's edition of In Other Public Sector News.
If you were looking for confirmation that the Albanese Government will be revisiting the proposals contained in the 2019 Independent Review of the APS (Thodey Review), the Minister for the Public Service Katy Gallagher tweeted a photo with newly appointed Secretary for Public Sector Reform, Gordon de Brouwer, and two well-worn copies of the document. De Brouwer served on the Thodey review panel alongside Glyn Davis, the recently appointed Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Victorian Ministry Reshuffle
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews has reshuffled his ministry five months out from the next Victorian state election on 26 November, after four cabinet ministers confirmed their intention to retire (Education Minister James Merlino, Health Minister Martin Foley, Police Minister Lisa Neville, and Sports Minister Martin Pakula). There is no change to Victoria’s WofG digital policy and governance, with Minister for Government Services Danny Pearson remaining in the role.
Public sector strikes
NSW public sector workers are taking industrial action this week over pay and staff shortages. Australia is experiencing the second most severe labour shortages in the developed world, according to the OECD economic outlook.
Census data released
The first batch of census data was released on Tuesday 28 June. It shows the population has reached 25.4 million, an increase of 8.6% since 2016. The census now reports on the prevalence of chronic health conditions, an area of increasing concern for governments and their health budgets – with virtual care technologies likely to play a big part in future policy responses. Further data will be released in October, and in mid-2023.
$480 million for NBN upgrade
Election funding pledges are starting to be fulfilled, with Minister for Communications Michell Rowland announcing $480m for NBN Co to upgrade their fixed wireless network.
Quantum computing breakthrough
Quantum researchers at UNSW have developed the world's first integrated circuit manufactured at the atomic scale. The breakthrough was achieved in 2021, but only revealed with the publication of their research in Nature. The incoming Albanese Government has pledged to invest $1 billion in a Critical Technologies Fund to improve Australia’s capability in areas such as quantum computing.
With the financial year coming to an end, there has been a flurry of public sector audits published around the country. These are often a reliable source of leads and market intelligence for the tech sector.
NSW Local government audit found that 65 councils have yet to implement basic governance and internal controls to manage cybersecurity.
NSW planning portal review found the government had (significantly) overestimated the financial benefits of its introduction. WA auditor general found that 12 local governments failed to meet IT security benchmarks.
ANAO report assessing the overseas covid crisis response recommended the DFAT overhaul its data capability and strategies.
ANAO report on Home Affairs management of critical infrastructure policy found glaring shortcomings in the compliance framework, impact assessment, and review protocols.
The ANAO is scheduled to table an audit on the Effectiveness of the Management of Contractors at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs on 29 June 2022.
Public sector strikes in the UK
Rail workers have gone on strike in England, Wales and Scotland, where inflation is at a 30 year high. The UK Consumer Price Index rose by 9.1% over 12 months, with the Retail Price Index hitting 11.7%. Teachers and nurses are also considering industrial action, seeking ‘inflation-plus’ pay rises.
Microsoft tracking Russian propaganda
Microsoft joins Twitter, Facebook and others tracking stories by Russian state-affiliated media, in an effort to slow Russian propaganda on the war and vaccines.
US online privacy laws pass sub-committee
A bill (H.R. 6207) to force tech giants to only collect personal data necessary to provide services has easily passed its first hurdle, the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, and will now go to the full committee. It is expected to encounter a spirited lobbying in the senate.
New Zealand moving toward collective bargaining
New Zealand looks set to introduce a framework for collective bargaining for pay agreements across entire industries or occupations, after the ILO knocked back a complaint by lobby group BusinessNZ. The bill is currently with a Select Committee, which is due to report back to parliament in early October 2022.
Rocket launch Arnhem Land
75 staff from the US government space agency travelled to Arnhem Land for the first commercial space launch in Australia's history, just after midnight on Monday June 27. Equatorial Launch Australia (ELA) selected the site, 1,000 km east of Darwin, on the most north-western tip of the Gulf of Carpentaria (closer to West Papua, than Darwin) for its proximity to the equator, low population, and deep-water port. It is NASA's first rocket launch from a commercial spaceport outside of the United States, and is conducting astrophysics studies that can only be undertaken in the Southern Hemisphere.