Mainframe may hit the road

Successful outsourcing service providers may decide whether outsourcing-hit commonwealth mainframes remain in Canberra or are moved elsewhere, according to the federal government.

The announcement came after Special Minister of State Senator Chris Ellison confirmed in the Senate that one of the commonwealth's most important mainframes would be moved to Sydney over Christmas.

The move is a direct result of the outsourcing of IT functions within the Department of Finance and Administration (DoFA). The DoFA CMOS system mainframe was transferred to IBM Global Services Australia in November 1997 as a result of the controversial outsourcing of DoFA's IT infrastructure and IT support to IBM GSA as a 'piggyback' to the Veterans' Affairs Department contract.

DoFA use of the mainframe, which handles cardinal commonwealth functions for government agencies such as the FIRM (Financial Information Resource Management) centralised payments, accounting and budget system, will continue by landline.

Senator Ellison said no public sector positions would be lost as a result of the move from the Canberra Treasury building to an IBM site in Sydney.

"Other commonwealth mainframe computers will be outsourced as a result of current OASITO (Office of Asset Sales and IT Outsourcing) tendering activity; however the end location of these computers is not known and will be a matter for the successful service providers," he said.

Commonwealth staff have been warned to expect some processing down-time, as the system is moved and then tested in its new location. The mainframe is expected to be unavailable from 5pm on Thursday December 24 1998 until around midday Tuesday December 29 1998.

All communications links including Netmaster, FTAM and dial-up FRITS connections will remain unchanged.

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