In Other Public Sector News for August 31
Last Minute addition to Digital Ministers Meeting
With all eyes on this week’s Jobs Summit in Canberra, where digital skill shortages are expected to be a hot topic for the ministers responsible for digital transformation - Katy Gallagher (DTA), Bill Shorten (Gov Services), and Ed Husic (Industry) - it was unclear whether the government would be sending a minister to attend the G20 Digital Ministers Meeting in Bali, which is also on over 1-2 September. Intermedium has been inquiring with the Prime Ministers media unit since June to check whether this event was on anyone's radar, and we got a phone call early on Tuesday evening indicating that a minister may still be dispatched to Denpasar.
Cyber Advisory Group recommends back to basics
Telstra CEO Andy Penn gave his final address as chair of the government’s Cyber Industry Advisory Committee at the Press Club last week, coinciding with the release of the group’s 2022 annual report. It recommends further hardening of government systems, including training, the introduction of evaluation and measurement systems to monitor cyber hygiene, better threat sharing and further support for SMEs.
Audit office identifies tech targets
The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has released its Annual Audit Work Program (AAWP), the list of ‘possible’ audit targets for the current Financial Year. These audits are consistently one of the most reliable sources of future budget funding signals. Among the ICT-related matters that may be subjected to scrutiny:
- Digital identity reforms
- Management of cybersecurity
- Managing privacy of client information
- Workforce Australia digital platform
- ATO Modernising Business Registers Project
- Home Affairs workforce planning (i.e. use of labour hire)
- DFAT efficiency of the Australian Passport Office
STATE BY STATE
On the back of the Robodebt Royal Commission, NSW digital minister Victor Dominello has asked the state’s information and privacy watchdogs to undertake a “scan of the AI and privacy landscape,” and is rumoured to be considering Australia’s first Artificial Intelligence commissioner.
In a surprising turn of events, David Chandler will remain in his position as NSW Building Commissioner until August 2023, reversing a decision to resign ‘abruptly’ on 7 July. Chandler has been in the role since 2019, and has overseen the introduction of a sweep of digital planning reforms, including the launch of a new digital Strata Hub.
Also in NSW, the Offender Digital Services platform, a digital rehabilitation program, will be rolled out across a further 28 correctional centres by mid 2023. The system, an Australian first, was initially piloted in two facilities in 2020 and secured $40 million to expand from the 2021-22 Digital Restart Fund.
The Victorian government has announced a seed funding grant to support businesses in the Cremorne Digital Hub, in Richmond, 2.5km from the CBD. The designation of the neighbourhood as tech precinct was included in plans released in December 2020. Taxpayers will provide a $50 million to $100 million “Sidecar Fund” to be managed by Artesian Venture Partners, in a collaboration with the University of Melbourne, RMIT University and La Trobe University.
UK: Closer to single digital sign-up system
A beta version of the UK’s new ‘tell-us-once' One Login for Government system has gone live in a partnership with the national Disclosure and Barring Service, an employee screening service. Deloitte was chosen to develop the UK system. The idea was first outlined in a March 2021 speech.
USA: $80 billion to improve tax service delivery
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will soon receive an $80 billion windfall to hire more staff and “support a much-needed upgrade of technology that is decades out-of-date,” according to the US Secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen.
USA: satellite networks poised to provide terrestrial telco coverage
There are a sweep of agreements emerging for low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite communications networks to start plugging gaps in the US terrestrial telco coverage. T-Mobile is partnering with Elon Musk’s Starlink (the SpaceX network). Apple is expected to announce a partnership for iPhones to connect to the GlobalStar constellation. Vodafone’s partnership with Texas start-up AST SpaceMobile has been delayed by six months.
USA: first mission to the moon in 50 years!
In what was supposed to be a giant leap for lunar exploration, tens of thousands of people gathered at Cape Canaveral on 29 August to witness the launch of the new Artemis space program, which will send a human to the moon for the first time in 50 years, only for lift off to be postponed due to an engine problem. When it eventually takes flight, the unmanned test rocket Artemis I is scheduled to spend around 42 days in orbit. Artemis II will be crewed and is scheduled to run a lunar ‘fly-by’ in May 2024. Artemis III is slated to land the first woman on the moon in 2025. NASA has revealed plans to build an Artemis Base Camp on the lunar surface, and a ‘Gateway’ satellite in lunar orbit as a staging point for deep space exploration. Australia is a signatory to the Artemis Accords to support the research program. In case it comes up in pub quiz this week: Artemis is the mythological Greek goddess of the Moon and twin sister of Apollo; the Soviet Union landed Luna 2 on the surface of the moon in 1959; Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon in 1969 with the crew of Apollo 11; the Tom Hanks movie was Apollo 13 (1970); the last astronauts visited the moon in Apollo 17 in 1972.