Another big year ahead for IT at Customs

Summary:The Australian Customs Service's IT function has a lot on its plate this year as it attempts to put last year's technology nightmares behind it. On Friday, the group released its annual report for the 2005/06 financial year.

The Australian Customs Service's IT function has a lot on its plate this year as it attempts to put last year's technology nightmares behind it.

On Friday, the group released its annual report for the 2005/06 financial year. In the document, Customs acknowledged freight industry problems caused by last year's botched implementation of its Integrated Cargo System (ICS), but also looked to the future.

In the 2006/07 financial year, Customs will implement a range of technology initiatives including a desktop and local area network server upgrade known as the One Office project.

An extension to Customs' telecomms agreement with Telstra will be negotiated, in addition to a project to fully certify Customs' local area network for security purposes. An identity management solution highlighted in April will also be bedded down.

Customs is currently evaluating options for a new electronic record keeping system under the Records and Information Management System project, due to be implemented over the next couple of years.

However, perhaps the most important change within the agency over the next 12 months will be the transition process as Customs' AU$550 million outsourcing arrangement with EDS comes to an end in June 2007.

Customs will bring desktop and local area network support services back in-house.

However, a range of services previously covered under the EDS deal will continue to be outsourced. In late May, Customs went to public tender for a number of services including: mainframe and mid-range server, application maintenance and support and secure gateway services.

"Customs expects transition from the current arrangements to the new contracts to occur between February 2007 and November 2007," the annual report said.

Looking back
While the ICS bungle occupied most of the headlines dealing with Customs' IT function in 2005/06, a range of other technology initiatives also took place during that year.

"A three-year enterprise agreement for Microsoft [software] licensing was established through reseller Dimension Data," said Customs' annual report. Additionally, "an identity management project implemented single sign-on for the Customs financial system".

The agency created an IT service support and engagement office to enable the delivery of services to the business in a more responsive manner, and an IT security panel was established to better procure services in that area.

Following the implementation of the ICS system, Customs' application development arm has moved from a development to maintenance focus for its portfolio of cargo-related applications.

Behind the scenes, Customs also bedded down a number of standardisation and data management projects over the past year.

Topics: Telcos, Enterprise Software, Outsourcing, Telstra

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