DPS IT prepares for 44th Australian Parliament

The Australian Department of Parliamentary Services has been working hard over the last six weeks to get IT ready for the new and returning parliamentarians, DPS CIO Eija Seittenranta has told ZDNet.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

While Parliament hasn't sat in the six weeks since the election, the Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS) has been working behind the scenes to ensure all desktops, mobiles, laptops, and accounts are ready for the new and returning MPs, senators and their staff.

Following the election of the new government under Prime Minister Tony Abbott on September 8, the parliament has to prepare for the new MPs and returning MPs by first cleaning up the IT of the outgoing MPs and senators, DPS CIO Eija Seittenranta told ZDNet.

"We've got to recover the equipment that they've had allocated to them under the ITP entitlements. That equipment is cleansed and sanitised, and it is then given to new incoming members because equipment is inherited," she said.

"We have to remove their accounts from our network and email, and we provide outgoing senators and members with copies of all of their data and emails should they want it."

Then for new members and senators, she said they get provided the cleansed equipment from the outgoing members and senators, and set up new email accounts and provide training on the IT facilities, and set up the equipment in their offices.

As a result of the change of government, there was also a need for parliamentarians to move offices, as Coalition MPs get government offices, while Labor MPs move to the opposition offices. Seittenranta said that DPS had been moving eight offices per day over the last few weeks.

The one-stop IT shop set up in DPS is up and running to allow MPs to try out their smartphones, laptops, desktops and tablets before picking the one they want, and Seittenranta said that MPs could now see a virtual one-stop shop on the internal DPS network.

"We also now have an online version of [the one-stop shop] called ParlICT where they can see their own office equipment and the readiness for replacement of [that] equipment so they can make those choices through a self-service facility if they elect."

There are around six models of phones MPs can choose from including iPhones, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone devices, and a Samsung Galaxy S4.

"We've limited the Android choices because of the enormous variety of operating systems," Seittenranta said.

While some have decided to stick with BlackBerry, many MPs were shifting away from the traditional BlackBerry over towards iOS more than either Android or Windows Phone, according to the CIO.

"[There has] probably been a move to iOS, but there's people who have chosen to stay with BlackBerry, and a small number who have picked the Samsung."

For those wanting to keep up with everything going on in Parliament, or those who are nostalgic for parliaments of the past, the Department of Parliamentary Services' video on demand service ParlView went live at the end of June, allowing members of the public to recall videos from Parliament back to the Keating Government era in 1993.

Not all of the videos are up yet, but Seittenranta said that she hoped this would be completed by the end of June next year.

"We've now got about half of the backlog material to 1993 promoted online. The rest will hopefully be there by the end of this financial year," she said.

Members of the public can also put in a request for any videos that are not up on the site yet, Seittenranta said.

During the break from the last sitting of Parliament in June, DPS also replaced the analog television systems in the Parliament that are used to view parliamentary proceedings, this required retuning approximately 1,500 televisions in total.

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