The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has signed another contract with Fuji Xerox Businessforce to provide a ballot scanning system for the next federal election. The AU$27 million, two-year contract includes the supply of the technology and equipment that will be extended for use by state and territory electoral commissions. One of today's biggest opportunities for IT to make an impact is by automating business processes, manufacturing, repetitive tasks, and more. An AEC spokesperson told ZDNet that correct processes were undertaken regarding procurement, selecting Fuji Xerox Businessforce from a standing deed of offer that is managed by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). On the four-vendor panel, which began in June 2014 and will last through to June 2019, is data preparation and processing firm Decipha, management consultants Sema Operations, Fuji Xerox Australia, and Fuji Xerox Businessforce.
The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has passed its verdict on how the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) procured services for the 2016 federal election, and AEC cannot demonstrate it got value for money from the Senate ballot paper scanning services offered by Fuji Xerox Document Management Services, and that security in said services was lacking. "The focus was on delivering a Senate scanning system by polling day and insufficient attention was paid to assuring the security and integrity of the data generated both during and after operation," ANAO said in its report released on Monday. Due to the tight time frame imposed on the AEC by a confluence of factors -- recent Senate voting reforms, a double dissolution election, and a shorter timeline for the return of election writs -- the ANAO said the AEC had ditched compliance with Australian government IT security frameworks. "Because of the highly compressed time frame available for development, it was accepted that certain controls would not be able to be met and would have to be accepted by the agency as a residual risk," the AEC told ANAO. Thanks to the introduction of a new way to allocate Senate voting preferences, the AEC decided that a manual process would be too expensive, and engaged the services of Fuji Xerox Document Management Services to create a semi-automated ballot scanning process at a cost of AU$27.2 million.
The federal government has announced electronic voting will be introduced into the Parliament of Australia, with Leader of the House of Representatives Christopher Pyne confirming it will be implemented in the lower house next year. "The implementation of electronic voting will reduce significantly the time required for each vote in the chamber," Pyne said. "Voting outcomes will be transparent, accurate, and known immediately, freeing up more time for important parliamentary business to be conducted each day the house sits. "Electronic voting will also provide an electronic solution for recording division voting and improve online accessibility to division process and results." While the details are scarce at this stage, Pyne said the Department of Parliamentary Services will shortly call for tenders for the project, also giving "innovative" businesses and individuals an opportunity to contribute.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is expecting the default for its 2021 Census to be digital, seeking a vendor to help it develop, host, and support its next attempt at country-wide online data collection. In a Request for Tender (RFT), the ABS specifies a cloud-based solution, noting that a "trusted, simple, easy to use contemporary experience will be required to ensure the continued growth in online completion". Specially, the required cloud-based solution is expected to be a responsive web application designed for mobile and desktop use; comprise of an online form that is accessible, secure, and scalable and which may include up to four different form types; and have user services including a "Contact Us" option and the ability for the individual to easily request a paper version of the Census form. It should also work on Census night when households log on. On August 9, 2016, the ABS experienced a series of denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, suffered a hardware router failure, and baulked at a false positive report of data being exfiltrated, which resulted in the Census website being shut down and citizens unable to complete their online submissions.