Dept of Prime Minister and Cabinet seeks Lotus Notes replacement

Dept of Prime Minister and Cabinet seeks Lotus Notes replacement

Summary: The Australian Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet is seeking a replacement for its Lotus Notes-based CabNet document system.

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The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) has gone to tender, looking to replace its 14 year-old Lotus Notes-based document system after hinting late last year that the system would need to be overhauled.

The CabNet platform is used to manage the transfer of confidential Cabinet documents between government ministers and their departments, and it runs on a dedicated secret network that is only accessible by a limited number of physically secured terminals across government agencies.

In August last year, the department was in the process of developing a business case to replace the legacy CabNet system, according to minutes from a meeting of the Secreataries' ICT Governance Board. Intermedium reported at the time that the Lotus Notes platform had been in place since 1998, and funding for the replacement system would likely be included in the 2013-2014 budget to be handed down next week.

In tender documents released yesterday, the department said that it was looking for expressions of interest to replace the CabNet system because it "does not meet reasonable expectations of a modern ICT system".

The PM&C is seeking the entire software and services to replace the CabNet system, including servers and associated hardware to integrate into the existing government networks, or an entirely managed service.

The aim, according to the tender documents, is to improve the ability for people to collaborate, develop, and oversee cabinet documents, and improve the secure access to Cabinet documents for ministers.

The tender documents state that the system should be usable on mobile devices, and be easy enough for ministers to use.

"It should be assumed that some users will have only a basic understanding of the operating environment and no other prior experience with the proposed solution. There is minimal opportunity to provide training to these users."

"Some ministers now read submissions using an iPad that has had its over-the-air-communications capability removed. The iPads connect via the 30-pin connector to get an update of submissions for the upcoming Cabinet or Cabinet committee meetings."

PM&C follows in the footsteps of the former Queensland government, which in 2011, trialled an iPad Cabinet document reader app developed by the company behind the successful Domino's Pizza app.

Topics: Government, Government AU, Australia

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Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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6 comments
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  • Oh my gawd

    somebody still uses Notus Lotes? (people who used it will get that joke).
    FDanconia
    • Haters hate...

      Blame the administrator not the product.
      giuliocc@...
  • If they knew the possibilities, they wouldn't throw away their system.

    Chances are the underlying system was designed for their unique organization. What they don't realize (and the first commenter doesn't have a clue about) is that with IBM Domino, they can re-do the app to have a fresh, modern U.I. for web browsers and mobile devices using XPages, and not have to re-do all the security and business logic that may have taken years to refine.

    As a developer, I know that many of the pieces that are built-in to Domino (especially security and replication) are very difficult to reproduce in other platforms, like .Net/SharePoint or LAMP. Using Domino to serve up web browser and mobile apps (without using any Notes clients) provides a powerful development platform.

    This would be faster and much less-expensive than writing it all new from scratch - plus, users would be happy with a new app because all they know is the U.I. - if it's a good app, they don't care what is under the hood.
    Don Mottolo
    • Agree. A lot has changed over the last 10 years for Domino

      The tender says they're running the near latest edition of Domino, so given the design of the original system is more than 10 years old, I would think a much better job can be done with the more recent editions. Hopefully a good tenderer can point that out.
      giuliocc@...
  • Josh, Did you actually look at the tender ?

    Josh, the requirements for Mobility are not the highest requirement. The system is huge in scope. Collaboration and workflow are classified as more important. So, perhaps you should actually do some research about it in more depth, rather than just go for the lower classified, but more blingy criteria. I spent 15 minutes reading through it and have determined quite a bit.

    They said they would favour a COTS solution. This is an old custom build in Lotus Notes that has managed to serve them quite well for more than 10 years, but they don't know how to extend it further. It's probably got too many changes over the years to make it viable for further extension.

    It has over 10GB of legacy data with a very sophisticated workflow. As an IT professional who has worked with Oracle/SAP/Java/Domino I can safely say there are no COTS for these requirements. Any solution will require some degree of custom build. Probably more than you expect.

    Any of the big players who might tender for the solution will need large teams to redo what a couple of developers did years ago. The big vendors will charge well over a $1.5million for this, when you could re-develop it in Domino with new mobile extensions for under $1million. Also, if the govt gets sucked in by a predatory tenderer like Accenture which will offer a cheap price, then add charges during the project, the tax payer will be completely screwed. Conservatively, expect it to be $5-10million at the end of it. I have seen it first hand at other agencies how Accenture just take advantage of dullards and dopes in their respective departments, and over-charge and under-deliver. But this is not about beating up Accenture. I think you're a cup half empty reporter on this, rather than see a computer system that has served the cabinet for over 10 years on one technology. New technologies, from experience are more fragmented and labour intensive than ever before..
    giuliocc@...
    • Queensland govt is a different beast

      Speedwell implemented that solution for qld as a reseller of Dossiere. The Domino's solution they did is actually un-related to the qld govt solution, but they have a particularly big client in Domino's pizza. The mobility solution they did for Domino's appears un-related to the qld govt to. The functionality of Dossiere is only a fraction of that required for the PM and Cabinet in this tender.

      Dossiere's main value proposition is the fact that it's mobile, not much more than that. All it can do is upload, list agenda's and allow users to annotate documents on an iPad. The cabnet tender needs a vast amount of functionality to work across agencies and collaboration and version control of submissions. So, a fairly shallow assessment of the needs and solutions for govt. Amazing what you can learn with half an hour at lunch time.
      giuliocc@...