BoM heads into final tranche of ROBUST IT overhaul program

Bureau CEO said commercial discussions on the project's final stage will conclude over a period of 'at least the next 18 months to two years'.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has been undertaking what it has called a comprehensive rebuild of its IT systems and related business processes and applications, which are focused on addressing security and resilience risks.

Known as ROBUST, the program is aimed at securing and strengthening all elements of the Bureau's operating environment to provide "continuous availability of critical services, mitigating the risks arising from the fragility of the existing ICT environment".

The program will run over a number of years.

Facing Senate Estimates on Tuesday, BoM CEO and director of Meteorology Andrew Johnson said his agency was moving into the third stage of the project, with funding provided in the 2020-21 Budget

"20-21 was a fantastic outcome for the Bureau … there were probably three measures … the first is the government agreed to fund the third and final tranche of the major ICT and observing systems program called ROBUST," Johnson said.

While those Budget numbers are not for publication due to "commercial and national security reasons", the government did also provide, in the forward estimates, AU$225.6 million to support the "long-term financial sustainability of the Bureau".

"It's a very important decision which will enable us to sustain the benefits of the ROBUST program out into the future," he said.

The Budget also announced an ongoing additional investment of AU$143 million per annum from 1 July 2025, as well as some supplemental funding for BoM's aviation services.

"We went to government around this particular initiative in the 2017-18 Budget," Johnson said. "The proposal was tranched in three phases, three stages. Tranche one and two have already been funded in the 17-18 and I think 18-19 Budgets, and then we came back to government in this Budget for the third and final tranche."

BoM has been tight-lipped on its project, but tender documents released in August showed that within ROBUST, there are five delivery streams that will deliver core technology platforms to the Bureau, including infrastructure, data and integration, observation network, channels, and applications.

"The third and final tranche is commencing, we're obviously in the process of commercial discussions with a range of players," Johnson said on Tuesday. "I don't have in front of me when they'll conclude, clearly there will be transparency around this process through a range of mechanisms we're subject to regular review, I can assure you."

Commercial discussions, he said, would conclude over a period of at least the next 18 months to two years.

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