Ombudsman casts doubt on lawfulness of Revenue NSW’s automated debt collection program; Ransomware strikes QLD Govt-owned energy generator; and Microsoft becomes next ‘certified strategic’ cloud provider to fed govt.
– The NSW Government has this week opened the doors on its dedicated quantum hub, Tech Central, welcoming Q-Ctrl, Sydney Quantum Academy, and Quantum Brilliance as its first tenants.
The quantum terminal will be the city’s “first centralised live collaboration space for researchers, developers, engineers and entrepreneurs – all working to advance quantum technology, high performance computing, and artificial intelligence,” the Government announced in a statement.
“Quantum terminal along with the rest of Tech Central will form one of the most vibrant innovation corridors in Australia,” Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney and Minister for Trade and Industry Stuart Ayres said.
Alongside the opening of the quantum terminal, the NSW Government also announced a $21 million investment “to prioritise affordable accommodation for scale-ups”.
– The shift from Australian public service staff to labour hire, consultancies and information and communications technology (ICT) firms has undermined public sector staff’s capability and led to dearth of digital skills in government, a new report from the Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee has revealed.
In its report, APS Inc: undermining public sector capability and performance, the Committee said the shift had generated profits for multinational corporations but undermined public sector staff capability, wasted expenditure on poor value-for-money ventures, and had weakened public service delivery for Australians.
“Evidence to this inquiry… has reiterated the now well-established position that the APS [Australian Public Service] is suffering from a lack of investment in its people, its policy development, and its digital and ICT capabilities. This is resulting in direct and adverse impacts on the APS’s ability to deliver for the community.”
The Committee said its inquiry had reiterated the “well-established position” that the APS was suffering from a lack of investment in its people, its policy development, and its digital and ICT capabilities.
“This is resulting in direct and adverse impacts on the APS’s ability to deliver for the community,” it said.
Evidence before the committee indicated a significant digital, ICT and data skill gaps opening within the APS.
In a submission to the Committee, the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) expressed concern that an over-reliance on ICT contractors for core, ongoing work had caused the APS to lose sight of the benefits of in-house ICT development and resulted in a deskilled workforce.
The Committee called for a “stop” to the “hollowing out of APS capability through privatisation and externalisation”.
– Microsoft has become the latest cloud provider to be permitted to carry protected-level public sector data under the Federal Government’s hosting certification framework.
The bigtech joins Amazon Web Services, Vault Cloud, Sliced Tech and AUCloud as a ‘certified strategic’ service provider.
Certified strategic is the highest level of assurance under the framework, which was introduced to “mitigate against supply chain and data centre ownership risks”.
– The NSW Government’s ‘public cloud by default’ policy is gaining traction, with Technology Platforms Executive Director Simon Geraghty predicating that just five percent or less of investments would require exemptions to being hosted in the public cloud moving forward.
This would mean that around 95 percent of major government IT infrastructure investments in NSW would be public cloud-native in the future.
Speaking at the 2021 digital.nsw showcase, Geraghty said that by 2023 all agencies will be using public cloud “for a minimum 25 percent of their ICT services”.
– The NSW Ombudsman has called for greater transparency around the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies within government following revelations the state’s debt-collection agency, Revenue NSW, had deployed automated technology unlawfully to recover money from bank accounts of individuals who had failed to pay fines.
In a report tabled to the NSW parliament, the state Ombudsman cautioned agencies that adoption of machine technology “in ways that do not accord with standards of lawfulness, transparency, fairness and accountability”, and could lead to findings of maladministration or potentially unlawful conduct.
– CS Energy, owned by the QLD Government, has reportedly been struck by ransomware on its corporate network.
The company has, however, confirmed the breach had not impacted electricity generation at its Callide and Kogan Creek power stations.
“Our power stations are continuing to generate and dispatch electricity into the National Electricity Market,” CS Energy said in a statement.
CS Chief Executive Andrew Bills said the energy had “immediately notified relevant state and federal agencies, and are working closely with them and other cybersecurity experts”.
“We have contacted our retail customers to reassure them that there is no impact to their electricity supply and we have been regularly briefing employees about our response to this incident.”
– Transport for NSW has inked a new deal with Accenture-owned software development firm Industrie&Co to help deliver the next generation state-owned Sydney coordinated adaptive traffic system (SCATS) – a real-time traffic management system to manage traffic light signal phasing.
iTnews reports that the deal comes several months after TfNSW ditched plans to commercialise SCATS, choosing to instead establish a dedicated team to accelerate the development of SCATS and expand commercial activities.
– The NSW Government has announced an update to its Information Classification, Labelling and Handling Guidelines. The Guidelines detail how NSW agencies can correctly assess the sensitivity and security of their information, label, and then handle this information safely.
The Australian Government has simplified its classification system and has removed the ‘CONFIDENTIAL’ security classification. It has also removed the ‘For Official Use Only (FOUO)’, ‘UNCLASSIFIED’, and ‘Sensitive: Cabinet’ classifications.
The update was made to align with The Australian Government’s update to its own Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF) in 2018.
– The NSW Productivity Commission has called for a revision to state regulations for drones and personal mobility devices (PMDs), including e-scooters, calculating the change could yield more than $580 million in benefits across the state over the next 20 years.
Greater flexibility around the regulation of drone use in agriculture could save an average farmer up to $11,000 in regulatory and training fees, as well as other significant time and cost savings, the research revealed. This could unlock up to $500 million in net benefits by 2041.
State regulations on PMDs are considered particularly restrictive in a Australian and global context.
“Many Australian and international jurisdictions, including Queensland, the ACT, France and California, already regulate PMDs and allow them to be used in public areas but laws in NSW restrict their use to private property only,” said NSW Productivity Commissioner Peter Achterstraat AM.
He said use of PMDs in NSW could unlock more than $80 million in net economic benefits by
– The South Australian Government has announced that CGI, a global IT and business consulting services firm, will set up shop in its new Space, Defence and Intelligence Hub in Adelaide. CGI is promising its new Aussie hub would create up to 200 highly skilled technical jobs by 2024 across the country.
The SA Government said CGI would be able to leverage the state’s capabilities in “artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data capabilities”.
“As the defence state, and with the recent AUKUS defence announcement, CGI will be able to access global capability within defence and space in South Australia,” said, Minister for Trade and Investment Stephen Patterson.
A recipient of the South Australian Landing Pad, CGI received up to $80,000 to expand into South Australia, with access to professional support and accommodation.
CGI company advises, builds, implements and operates bespoke, technically complex, mission-critical information systems. The company is currently recruiting for roles within the Space, Defence and Intelligence Hub.
– The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) is seeking industry feedback on proposed requirements for a new category under the Hardware Marketplace for Whole-of-Government printers, scanners and multi-functional devices.
The new category would replace the current Major Offices Machines Panel arrangement, set to expire in November 2022.
– The NSW Government has revealed it is conducting “first Australian field trials” of a “world-first technology” to detect dangerous levels of respirable crystalline silica (RCS) in the air in real-time.
The new technology differs from existing prototypes as it accurately detects RCS particles in the air, analysing incoming data to provide a milligram per cubic meter reading and a feature that will alert workers if they are in danger.
“This device will be instrumental in helping us to reduce silicosis in NSW, and I am proud that we are leading the way with this world-first technology,” Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson.
– The NSW Government has also announced it will launch a new Critical Minerals hub in Central West NSW.
Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Resources Paul Toole in a statement said the Hub was an “Australian-first” and would set NSW apart as a premier destination for investment in antimony, cobalt, copper, titanium, rare earths and zirconium projects as demand for critical minerals increases exponentially in the next 40 years.
“The Hub in the Central West will be a focal point for the development of this industry, including value-added processing, located close to existing, approved and potential mining developments,” Toole said.