COVIDSafe total cost was AU$9.2 million to October 4 with AU$2.8 million on hosting

Of the AU$9.2 million total cost to the Digital Transformation Agency, AWS picked up AU$2.8 million in hosting.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

On October 4, Australia's COVIDSafe app that was claimed in 2020 to be digital sunscreen by Prime Minister Scott Morrison was handed over to the Department of Health from the Digital Transformation Agency.

Speaking at Senate Estimates on Monday night, the DTA said the total cost up to the handover date was just shy of AU$9.2 million, with Amazon Web Services picking up AU$2.77 million in hosting costs.

In March it was revealed the agency was spending around AU$100,000 each month on hosting, but had allocated AU$200,000 each month for "future changes". At the time, the app's price tag to the end of January was AU$6.75 million and hosting was just over AU$900,000.

Taking DTA's numbers at face value, that would mean the hosting spend increased by AU$1.87 million in the past nine and a bit months, which is consistent with its AU$200,000 monthly run rate.

The DTA previously claimed it could get its running costs down to AU$60,000 a month.

"I estimated AU$100,000 per month to host COVIDSafe at the last hearing. That has ended up at AU$75,094.98 per month. And we've made a number of performance improvements to the app over the last couple of months, which should see that sitting at about AU$60,000 per month from the first of July," former DTA CEO Randall Brugeaud said in May.

"There's been a range of tuning efforts that we've applied, quite considerable improvement on the backend, which is the COVIDSafe National Data Store and how the data is stored as the app is in operation."

Overall, 7.7 million Australians are registered on the app.

"We've recorded more than 37,500 potential encounters, we've also presented 2,825 unique close contacts, and we've also been able to identify through the New South Wales reporting information 570 close contacts," DTA general manager Jonathon Thorpe said.

In July, the DTA removed the issues tab on the app's GitHub listing, meaning users could not report bugs.

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