The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) today said it would shortly go to market for technology suppliers for a $115 million IT core systems refresh project that had been in limbo since the federal election in November last year.
"Our objective is to cut red tape and make information that is public more public," the regulator's chief executive officer John Bligh told ZDNet.com.au today.
The project's funding had originally been allocated in May 2007 by then-treasurer Peter Costello, however, new Labor finance and deregulation minister Lindsay Tanner had threatened to pull the money as part of his series of public sector cuts. Tanner's office has not responded to requests for comment on the issue this year.
Bligh, who was appointed in February, has a strong technology background as a former executive for both IBM and IT services firm Accenture.
ASIC's current system for storing its reams of documents about companies operating in Australia harks back to 1991, and is based on a flat file system, meaning data is stored in unrelated documents similar to a conventional paper filing system. Bligh said the system upgrade, known as the "Starr Program", was broken into four parts, and would store data in a relational database, making it searchable.
These parts included a relational data warehouse that stored data, a comprehensive content management system, a series of portals that would create customisable information targeted at different groups, and finally a replacement of the core registry system.
Of the four parts, Bligh said the central feature was the replacement of the core registry system, which was due to be completed by 30 June 2010. Bligh said ASIC had a firm view about the functions it wanted from the system and that the entire project was long overdue.
These features included case and client management abilities, an intelligent front end, and the ability to search financial records. ASIC's current system is principally based on scanned documents rather than financial information entered digitally.
Bligh said the system would also tie into another government initiative, the Standard Business Reporting project which aims to provide a central point for collecting company financial information for government agencies. Once information is entered digitally via the Standard Business Reporting portal, this information would then be dynamically searchable via ASIC's new portal.
The news comes as ASIC has also recently appointed former IBM staffer Rachel Johnson-Kelly as its new chief information officer, following a lengthy gap in the position after then-CIO Karen Clarke left the group in August 2007.