Husic and McAllister Media Release: Proof DTA Was MIA During Turnbull Tech Wrecks

1.36pm | February 28, 2017

The Hon Ed Husic MP

Shadow Minister For the Digital Economy

Shadow Minister for Employment Services, Workforce Participation and the Future of Work

Member for Chifley

Senator Jenny McAllister

Senator for New South Wales

Last night at Senate Estimates the Turnbull Government’s peak digital transformation body acknowledged it hadn’t lifted a finger to fix IT messes hurting Australians.

Evidence presented to Estimates revealed a total disconnect between the Digital Transformation Agency and the ongoing digital project failures from the Turnbull Government.

The interim CEO of the DTA admitted they weren’t involved in fixing, overseeing or solving problems arising from the Australian Bureau of Statistics census bungle, the disastrous Centrelink robo-debt debacle, or the Australian Tax Office’s website failure or problems with the Child Support systems.

Nerida O’Loughlin said: “So we’ve not been involved in – we were not previously involved in any of those particular projects you mentioned.”

Based on what Senate Estimates heard, the Turnbull Government’s digital paralysis has meant that their top tech staff were only brought into the Centrelink’s robo-debt mess in late January, well after thousands of complaints about incorrect debts had swamped the public.

It begs the question: what are they doing then?

The revelations call into question the Turnbull Government's ability to steer digital transformation and helps explain why the DTA has failed to produce concrete results.

This complete dysfunction is contributing to the Turnbull Government’s failure to fix the tech wrecks punishing Australians trying to access government services.

In another embarrassing admission, the DTA acknowledged that the government had rebadged and reannounced the establishment of an internal group that was established to review and improve the management of government IT projects.

DTA interim CEO Ms O’Loughlin admitted that a recent announcement about the creation of the digital investment management office was not in fact a new initiative. The announcement was prompted by the need to correct the former name of that unit, confusingly titled the Project Management Office (PMO).

It looks like the Assistant Minister Angus Taylor was more interested in reannouncements and a sneaky clean-up of bad decisions than taking real action to fix the Turnbull Government tech wrecks.

The constant Turnbull Government failures are undermining the public’s faith in the important work of government digital transformation. It time they focused less on infighting and more on results.