ABS’s night of disaster throws doubt on national scale IT projects

After struggling to convince the Australian public that its most private data was safe in their hands, the crash of its online service couldn’t have come at a worse time.

The Australian Census has proved a disaster on Tuesday night as the Australian Bureau of Statistics threw up its hands and declared that its online service would not be available on the night that the Census was due to be completed and people should try again in the morning. “They have brought into question the ability of any government agency to be able to run technology projects of this scale.”

To be fair to the ABS, the fault is shared with IBM who won the $9.6 million contract to host the Census this year.

The ABS had tested the application at 150% of the expected load and paid Revolution IT $470,000 to carry out these tests.

This lead to the claim that the website would be able to handle 1 million form submissions every hour. This sounds impressive but it actually equates to only 277 a second. When nearly 11 million people are accessing the site at roughly the same time, this would actually be a very small number.

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    What chance is there now to get up a proposal for electronic voting in federal elections?