​IBM scores another million-dollar federal government contract

IBM Australia has just inked a AU$3.2 million deal with the Australian Tax Office, less than two months since the Census debacle began to unfold.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

IBM Australia has signed another contract with the federal government amid concerns the Australian arm of the global giant might not meet the demands of an existing project.

For a cost of AU$3.2 million, IBM will provide the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) with an Amazon Web Services (AWS) ecommerce-grade scalable cloud for a six-month period.

Prior to this contract, Big Blue had been awarded almost AU$7 million in federal government contracts in September alone, across the Department of Defence; the Department of Human Services; the Department of Industry, Science and Innovation; and another with the ATO.

The ATO already signed with IBM Australia last month to provide it with "Cloud Ops Support" also via the AWS cloud, for AU$4.1 million.

IBM will also be providing Defence with seven separate contract solutions, one valued at AU$1 million, and another signed on Tuesday which sees the department buy AU$3.3 million worth of computer hardware and accompanying support packages from IBM.

Amid the AU$13 million plus commonwealth signings, IBM has been at the centre of the federal government's investigation into the Australian Census debacle.

On August 9, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) experienced a series of denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, suffered a hardware router failure, and baulked at a false positive report of data being exfiltrated, which resulted in the Census website being shut down and citizens unable to complete their online submissions.

Last month, the ABS said in its submission to the Census Inquiry by the Senate Standing Committee on Economics that IBM failed to adequately address the risk posed to the Census systems it was under contract to provide, and that IBM should have been able to handle the DDoS attack.

"The online Census system was hosted by IBM under contract to the ABS, and the DDoS attack should not have been able to disrupt the system," the ABS said. "Despite extensive planning and preparation by the ABS for the 2016 Census, this risk was not adequately addressed by IBM and the ABS will be more comprehensive in its management of risk in the future."

Days after the botched Census, Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison called out IBM, saying that if it is found responsible for the failure of the Census 2016 website, the federal government will pursue the global giant.

"You can expect the government to look so thoroughly into this to understand where the ultimate system failure occurred, and where that responsibility lay, and if there are issues that relate to the service provider in this case, you can expect us to pursue that to the nth degree," Morrison said on August 12.

"The resources were there. The capability assessments and reviews were undertaken, the assurances were provided, and the events of 48 hours ago or thereabouts occurred."

Also awarded on Friday was a AU$1.4 million contract to Australian-listed Data#3 to provide the ATO with DDoS protection capability.

The ATO also contracted AWS for Infrastructure-as-a-Service Cloud Tenancy Services for AU$1.1 million, for the three months ending in December this year.

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