Centrelink’s IT systems were hit by a quarter million spike in traffic in one day as a result of the Rudd Government’s stimulus measures, the Department of Human Services (DHS) deputy secretary of ICT infrastructure, John Wadeson has told business forum in Sydney.
In response to whether the fiscal stimulus put in place by the then Rudd adminstration had impacted Centrelink, Wadeson told the SAS Forum audience it had resulted in a load spike on the agency’s systems.
As part of the stimulus low-income earners received a cash hand out of up to $900 and as a result the ATO and many financial corporations saw an increase in transactions with customers going online and to ATMs to check if they had received what came to be called Rudd Bucks.
“All I can say is that with the first big stimulus plan on the 8th of December, on that one day we had a quarter of a million people log into the portal to see if they were going to get paid,” he said. “So I remember the fiscal stimulus because of that. But we had an absolutely unimaginable set of challenges in terms of administration.”
The news gives credence to the view that some vendors profited considerably from the stimulus package as corporations and government agencies were forced to fork out money to purchase services to cater for the sudden increase in demand.
For example, globally, in 2008 IBM System Z hardware revenue grew 12 per cent while System Z computing power, which is measured in millions of instructions per second (MIPS) rose 25 per cent. The latter figure represents capacity bought on-demand by customers who needed more computing power. Mainframe customers typically have access to a percentage of the device's in-built capacity and in a process referred to as the 'Golden Screwdriver' can upgrade as they need by calling IBM for access to more power or order it over the Internet.
Not long after the stimulus money was paid out, IBM said it had achieved a solid performance in the mainframe space that could partly be attributed to new customers and the Rudd Bucks.
Although the economic downturn had meant the overall volume of money being transacted by mainframe clients had dropped, the introduction of the stimulus package by the Rudd Government and the fact mainframes often run at high utilisation rates, had increased the volume of transactions and contributed to IBM's Golden Screwdriver revenue.