Australian Electoral Commission makes progress with 2018 modernisation project

Seeking a partner to help it deliver 'innovative' solutions.

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is heading a project to modernise its systems, having reached out to the market in 2018 for help on shaping the future of its IT backend.

At the time, the AEC said the core software platforms in place had been in use for around 30 years, with its systems environment comprising of approximately 93 systems and supporting sub-systems.

The commission has this week published a request for tender (RFT) for an enterprise architecture tool (EA tool), seeking help with the delivery of its modernisation project.

The AEC normally operates out of 90 premises around Australia and has 780 staff. When an election is announced, that scales to more than 7,900 premises and approximately 90,000 staff.

AEC offices are organised geographically, with a national office in Canberra, an office in each state, and divisional offices in or near each of the electoral divisions. The AEC currently has a small enterprise architecture practice team located within its Information and Communication Technology branch.

As a result, the commission is seeking to contract a "dynamic business partner" that is capable of providing innovative solutions to support the AEC enterprise architecture practice and delivery of the modernisation program.

"The relationship between the service provider and the AEC should be a transparent, collaborative partnership through which cost, risk, and expertise are appropriately shared and managed to deliver a fit for purpose outcome for all stakeholders," the RFT says.

See also: Countering foreign interference and social media misinformation in Australia

The AEC is unsure if it wants an on-premises solution or one hosted in the cloud.

"The service provider must provide the AEC an EA Tool that addresses the job statements, business problems, guardrails as outlined ... and may be delivered as either on premise software that operates on infrastructure that is managed by the AEC; or software-as-a-service where the software and associated Infrastructure is fully managed by the service provider," it wrote.

The AEC said the intent behind building an EA Tool is to provide a platform and tooling to "support collaboration, management, governance, and visualisation of the agency models" and to "form a knowledge base that links high-level outcomes to analysis and design of the business and technical architectures".

To facilitate access by AEC users, the RFT says the EA Tool must operate within the AEC standard desktop operating environment, which currently includes Microsoft Windows 10; Microsoft Office and Outlook 2016; Google Chrome browser; and Adobe Acrobat Reader. The AEC standard desktop environment for remote working is delivered via a Citrix Workspace, the RFT adds.

The AEC's 2018-2022 corporate plan outlined its modernisation proposals, noting that it needs systems that are "robust, nationally consistent, and built for continual evolution through all phases of the electoral cycle", which includes maintaining the electoral roll, election planning, readiness, and delivery.

The tender closes 9 July 2020.

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