The new census fail that’ll piss you off 13



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Remember the census fail? Here we go again...

Who can forget this year’s trouble-plagued census that not only cost taxpayers and arm and a leg but also failed to work as planned? The good news is, so far no-one has been fined for failing to participate. The bad news is, the census nightmare is far from over. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the census could cost an extra $30 million and what follows is a list of ‘should-haves’.

The head of the ABS said there should have been more consultation over privacy concerns and there were plenty of lessons to learn from the forced shutdown of the website on census night in August.

“The ABS made a number of poor judgments in our preparation for the 2016 census that lead to the poor service experienced by many households,” chief statistician David Kalisch told the committee.

“I apologised to the community on behalf of the ABS, and I repeat that apology sincerely again.”

The census site crash has shone a spotlight onto IT giant IBM, who are blamed for failing to take adequate pre-emptive steps to prevent DDoS attack where the census website was offline for two days.There was another DDOS attempt made once the site was restored, but it was unsuccessful, and Mr Kalisch said he is confident no data was compromised.

“We did put in place additional protections and have the system to a higher level of robustness, so we were as confident as you could be that the system would be robust,” he said.

The five-year budget for the 2016 census cost taxpayers just under $470 million, and the digital approach was supposed to help cut spending by $100 million using the online forms. However, it looks like fixing the problems had come at a cost.

“We have to date probably incurred additional costs of around $20 million, and these are rough figures, and we anticipate probably spending another $10 million,” he said.

“In hindsight … the process that we put in place was not as robust and strong as it should have been,” he said.

What do you think of this latest development?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Oh my oh my and they talk about cutting dole to people they waste so much and people on welfare get so little.

  2. Could the Census be made less intrusive by making use of existing data already held by other Govt Depts ( yep making the IT systems used in different Depts “talk to each other” – this already happens in some cases) and only then ask in the Census questions that can;t be collected from data already held. Perhaps even run the Census via a State/Territory timeline so as the decrease the demand to access the Census Site on one particular night or even allow the Census to be completed over a number of nights, which turned out to be the case this time anyway. Technology is great when it works and I am sure the next Census will be better – remember this census was not the first time that the population could opt to complete their form online only this time online was marketed as the preferred option.

    2 REPLY
    • While it could be more efficient, there are serious privacy considerations.In most of thesese departments’ privacy policies, there will be a statement that the information supplied will not be used for any other purpose and we supply such information on those terms. In some cases, fraud and breach of the law, those privacy considerations can be lawfully overridden. We already have had the spectre of government departments selling or attempting to sell public databases into private hands, not just in Australia but overseas.

    • That sounds more intrusive, not less. I don’t want the ABS snooping through my Medicare records, thankyou.

  3. After many phone calls, still no census form delivered,

    I can’t believe in this day and age, the powers to be hadn’t thought of the impact it would have on the Internet.

    What a waste of money,

    Makes me cross, when our medical system is struggling to keep up with the demand.

  4. I have even forgotten about this Census crap , and it is still going on! How can this Government justify spending so much money, mainly through the antiquated and incapable systems that they use, on a Census that can really have no use whatsoever. If the computer systems used by Centrelink are anything to go by, I can understand the complete failure of the exercise to produce any useful information.

  5. If, & that’s a ‘big’ if, these LNP idiots’ are still in Federal Govt at the next Census date, I recommend they revert to totally Paper Forms

    This system worked from 1911 onwards.
    Why change what’s not broken?

    It took me just SEVEN minutes’ to complete my paperwork, & posting it back wasn’t a problem!

    1 REPLY
    • .”Better” you’re a tad narrow in your thinking …. Firstly the LNP had zero to do with the system change, it began years before under the management? of the ALP. Secondly, the Federal government is purely just the employer of the public servants in the ABS.
      Think first, speak second.

  6. If, & that’s a ‘big’ if, these LNP idiots’ are still in Federal Govt at the next Census date, I recommend they revert to totally Paper Forms

    This system worked from 1911 onwards.
    Why change what’s not broken?

    It took me just SEVEN minutes’ to complete my paperwork, & posting it back wasn’t a problem!

    1 REPLY
    • Don’t forget it was Labor running the country when this computerized system was dreamed up, so don’t go rushing about the country trying to blame the Liberal/Nationals for it. Fairs fair in my book!

  7. HEY! WAIT A MINUTE! The above article says the blame for the failure was at the doorstep of IBM, so why are WE paying for the repair instead of them? That’s what would happen if they sold me a ‘duff’ computer, or I’d want to know the reason why. Is there NO-ONE in the government with the balls to tell IBM just what they must do to make the taxpayers happy? We’re getting much too much of this weak governance these days – they’re all too scared to say boo to a goose!

  8. Ever noticed that whenever a public servant stuffs up they get a slap on the wrist, YET if these same people were out in the workforce they would lose their job. Little wonder they are bludging in the public service!
    Overpaid and yet DO NOT take responsibility for their incompetence.

  9. I do believe that the time has come toget rid of IBM as a provider to any government body in Australia. They keep proving their incompetence time and time again. Not only did IBM stuff up the Census and the Qld Health Payroll they have also done the same to the Canadian Govenment payroll. Not exactly sure which department.
    So how many more things will IBM stuff up before Australia finds a company or its talent to do the job.
    For that matter when are we going to get government heads who know how tyo select an appropiate IT provider.

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