GovTech Weekly News Wrap – 18 August, 2020

Weekly news wrap of government technology

NSW’s upper house launches parliamentary inquiry into the Government’s data handling and cyber readiness; recently formed NZ ministry seeks brand new enterprise data and analytics platform.

Tracking the week that was in digital innovations and developments across Australia and New Zealand’s public sectors.

  • Following a spate of cyber incidents, NSWs’ legislative council will launch a parliamentary inquiry into the Government’s “cyber security and digital information management” as well as measures to protect digital infrastructure more generally.


  • New Zealand’s Ministry for Children (Oranga Tamariki) is seeking to develop its own enterprise data and analytics platform (EDAP). Oranga Tamariki has issued a Registration of Interest for a systems integrator to build a cloud-based EDAP in either Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure. The greenfields EDAP was first mooted immediately prior to the Ministry’s establishment three years ago.


  • Following a seven-month proof of design, Services Australia has contracted Infosys to build Centrelink’s payments and calculation engine. The contract, valued at $143 million and based on Pegasystems software, will calculate entitlements eligibility and payment amounts for welfare recipients through the agency’s SAP-based ‘Payments Utility’ platform.


  • The Federal Government has flagged reforms to Australia’s copyright laws. Among the proposed changes include a fair dealing exception to allow cultural and educational institutions, governments, and other persons engaged in public interest or personal research to quote copyright material. The Government will release draft legislation later in 2020, providing further details of reforms and opportunities for stakeholder consultation.


  • NZ’s Department of Internal Affairs is set to develop a new regulatory regime to enforce standards for digital identity providers. The Digital Identity Trust Framework will regulate the use of identity information managed and held by digital identity service providers. Legislation for the Framework will be introduced in 2021, with pilot programs to be held in the interim.


  • The Digital Transformation Agency is set to expand its Covid-19 response team following reports of “high levels of staff turnover and a reliance on outside contractors”, InnovationAus has revealed. The DTA’s Covid-19 digital response team is focused on the agency’s pandemic response efforts, including the COVIDSafe app, as well as coordinating with other departments on policies and briefings.


  • The Australian Government has released its latest update to its COVID-Safe contact tracing app, promising better privacy, accessibility and performance, and improved Bluetooth reliability. The app now conforms to WCAG 2.0 Level AA – a user accessibility standard. The Government said it would continue to work with developers on an updated version of the app which is expected to be released within the next weeks.


  • The NSW Government has released data on Covid-19, presenting daily updates on case locations by date of known outbreak, location, address and action.


  • IT spending by the Australian Government is expected to contract by 7.6 per cent this year to $7.67 billion. The projected decline – significantly higher than the expected global average decline of just 0.6 per cent – is said to be in large part due to the disruption brought on by Covid-19 pandemic.


  • Despite objections from legal professionals, NSW Police will continue to allow officers to choose when and when not to activate body-worn video (BWV) cameras following a statutory review by the police force. Legal bodies have pushed for devices to be activated during all interactions with members of the public.


  • New Zealand will commence a trial of its CovidCard contact tracing system. The Bluetooth-backed technology will work in conjunction with, though independently of, the NZ COVID Tracer app, which is accessed via smartphone. A decision on the full roll out the CovidCard will be made later this year following the trial.


  • Echoing NZ’s COVID Tracer app, the Service NSW has announced it will trial a venue-based contact tracing system using QR Code scans. The Service NSW-developed app works separately from the Federal Government’s COVIDSafe app. Trials will be undertaken in Dubbo as well as NSW venues owned by Merivale.


  • The Department of Social Services and Services Australia have reportedly awarded more than $34 million in contracts for legal services as a result of ongoing robodebt litigation. The data-matching program, known officially as the Online Compliance Intervention (OCI) initiative, issued debt notices to welfare recipients after erroneously calculating overpayments by Centrelink.


  • The New Zealand Government has launched a new “one-stop-shop” online portal for job seekers and employers looking for support, advice, jobs and training during the Covid-19 crisis.


  • The NSW Government has launched ‘Smart Places Strategy’ – a new a smart cities and connected infrastructure initiative. The Strategy will seek technological innovations, including the use of embedded IoT sensors and communications technology, to “improve the quality of life for communities across NSW”.


  • The Tasmanian Government has commenced contract negotiations with Telstra to build the new Tasmanian Government Radio Network (TasGRN). The contract will replace five separate radio networks with one consolidated network for emergency and government communications.



  • Several Australian Government agencies, including the Department of Education, the ATO, and Services Australia, have been recognised in the IPAA’s 2020 Public Sector Innovation Awards. The awards celebrate “creative and innovative approaches” to challenges within the public sector.




  • The CSIRO’s Parkes radio telescope, famously known as ‘The Dish’, has been added to the National Heritage List in recognition for its contribution to Australian astronomy. It is the first functioning scientific instrument to be added to the Heritage List.


  • The Australian Information Security Association (AISA), a peak information security body, has confirmed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Australian Security Industry Association (ASIAL). The pair will collaborate on resource sharing and joint research projects.



  • The South Australian Government has rolled out new online services targeted at senior citizens. South Australian Seniors Card holders will now be able to update their details or replace a missing card online. Of the more than 20,000 applications for a Seniors Card made by SA residents, more than 90 per cent are performed online, the Government said.


  • The Australian Government will team with the National Rugby League (NRL) to trial a new counterfeit goods detection app. Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said this technology could assist businesses in protecting their brands online and increase consumer confidence with NRL merchandise purchases.