DIMIA systems get $600 million overhaul

Indelibly stained by the all too human mistakes of its previous senior management, the Department of Immigration, Multiculturalism and Indigenous Affairs has rekindled its faith in information technology.

On his first official day as CIO, DIMIA's new Deputy Secretary Bob Correll has immediately embarked on a $600 million IT systems overhaul in an effort to put his house in order.

A mix of new and previously approved programs, the push appears to be the first tangible roadsign from the new regime at DIMIA that it intends to substantially build its IT capability to drive reforms in the department rather than use it as a whipping boy for its woes.

However, just how urgently an immediate reinvestment in IT systems is needed has been underscored by the fact that much of the $600 million worth of systems work is being tendered out prior to the findings of a major review of IT systems in the wake of the Palmer Report.

Conducted by former Federal Police Commissioner Mick Palmer, the report inquired into the wrongful detention and deportation of Australian citizens by DIMIA and found widespread systemic failures in the organization and called for an urgent review of DIMIA's IT and case management systems.

However, DIMIA CIO Bob Correll is not waiting for the findings of the IT review; Correll says "the full procurement program needs to go ahead as soon as possible," and that "reviews to address IT issues will be factored into the overall procurement program."

"We need to ensure we do not lose the momentum for change," Correll said.

The very scale of DIMIA's IT overhaul is sizeable to say the least. The department is almost immediately tendering for "a wide range of people and project services," not least because it says existing contracts are nearing their natural endpoints.

Apart from LAN, WAN, communications, voice and desktop service, the department is also calling for a range of biometric technologies to be embedded into its infrastructure as biometric enabled passports are rolled out across the world.

Big ticket items include the rollout of a silo-busting Global Services Environment which will feature new business process management systems, business rules engines, business activity monitoring systems.

However, the DIMIA shopping list does not stop there, with case management systems, correspondence and interview scheduling systems also thrown into the mix. Tendering documentation obtained by Computerworld also reveals the department is looking for an electronic case management and feedback handling solution to expedite cases and complaints before the Ombudsman, Privacy and Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commissions.

On the infrastructure side, a supplier panel for both "people and project services," is to be appointed. Contracts for desktop management, helpdesk, e-mail, remote access and LAN services, secure gateways, communications services including voice, WAN services, and video conferencing are also up for grabs.

In terms of how the department will restructure its IT and wrangle vendors, DIMIA says it will use a mix of traditional tendering and what it calls invitations to "participate in demonstration and proof of concept processes."

Listen to CIO Bob Correll being interviewed by Julian Bajkowski about changes at DIMIA.

Industry briefing will be held in Canberra on the September 27, 2005, with details available at www.immi.gov.au

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