#CensusFail ripples will impact every major government IT project


Quick return to normal operations after a crisis is important, but don’t forget that the collective external memory is often enduring. The lack of political IT expertise could scuttle ambitious but overdue projects, writes Craig Thomler.

I think it is now safe to say that, technically at least, #CensusFail has peaked, with the ABS and IBM successfully restoring most access for the Census 2016 site.

While there are still scattered reports of failures, not recognizing JavaScript is turned on, issues in some browsers and variable levels of access for people with VPNs, by and large the site is limping home. “It takes a long time to turn a big ship, and in this instance the ship is Australia.”

Increasingly it appears that there was no large denial of service attack on the ABS, just a cascading series of issues which made the Census service vulnerable to demand peaks, with perhaps a small attack being sufficient to drive it over the edge.

The repercussions and fallout for the incident will occur for a long time. Several official reviews are already in motion, all of IBM’s advertising in Australia remains offline, and the ABS has not changed its engagement and communications course in any perceivable respect.

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