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Who botched Oz cancer registry rollout? Pretty much everybody

Bronze badge

To be fair..

>nine Department of Health officials handling the project didn't disclose that they held Telstra shares<

That is a lot like saying that "9 officials didn't disclose they ate food" on some food related contract.

People who own Telstra shares are mostly / disproportionally people who don't know anything about shares, have no other shares, have no interest in shares, and don't know anything about the company results.

Also, Telstra is a big company, and this is a tiny unimportant part of the company with no effect on the share price.

You could argue that these people have a political bias towards Telstra, and against private charities, but in that case "owns Telstra shares" is redundant: you've already said that they are public servents, and the rest follows from that.

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Revolving door

and in corrupt Oz public servant fashion, they will be walking into cushy jobs at Telstra should they ever need another job

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Bronze badge

Telstra, for its part, has complained to the department that Medicare data, a requirement for the project, was incomplete and unreliable."

Maybe, if they were to complete all the privacy and security related requirements, they might have less trouble accessing the complete data set? On the other hand, that would make it a bit harder to shrug off the consequences once it's been revealed that they've let the data escape out into the big wide world, as will inevitably happen.

I can see the potential benefits of centralized health records, but I don't have enough confidence in the security aspects to voluntarily allow any of my medical records to be part of them.

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RW

"Medicare data.. was incomplete and unreliable."

What else did they expect? Incompleteness and unreliability are to be expected, many times over, when you merge multiple, formerly independent, sets of public data. Private, too, but my experience only extends to public data.

Were Telstra such fools as to expect otherwise?

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Meh

It's another day and another Government related IT project has just pissed millions of tax payers dollars down the drain. The problem I have is that I have read so many of these stories of late I cannot even summon the outrage I once had.

Am I the only one who now reads these failed government IT projects, shrugs his shoulders, utters "meh" then clicks on bootnotes to find out what the latest Darwinian candidate has done

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Pint

You rat-bag! You stole my exact thoughts!

Oh well, its Friday so have a beer.... between the Government, Telstra & NBNco I think our only hope is to drink ourselves into oblivion.....

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Mushroom

Again!

Stop outsourcing projects - How about we keep some very senior IT savvy staff in the public services, pay them a large crapload so they are not easily poached, and give them training and a career progression path to keep them? Let them outsource the hardware (and small bits of the rest if they really, really, have to) but keep the responsibility and authority in-house. Make certain that all of the software is open sourced, even if you have to pay the likes of IBM more in the short term, - The public who payed for this should own it, and be able to reuse it. Much of it comes down to generic databases, front ends, and appropriate user control/auditing/management tools.

Disclosure: I'm a muttering retired old fart: But since 1970, I have worked as a scientific civil servant; as a senior tech manager in a very large public utility; run a largish tech and scientific based business in the private sector; and then been the MD and major shareholder of a smaller company.

Another disclosure: Before spending a lot of time working on/in/managing and designing IT (from 1971 off and on) I worked as a scientist on rocket engines - OK, these IT projects often blow up leaving smoking holes, but they are not rocket science.

I look forward to your down-votes.

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IT Angle

Dodgy Data!

"Telstra, for its part, has complained to the department that Medicare data, a requirement for the project, was incomplete and unreliable"

Completely unsurprising.

However the market testing process should have allowed Telstra, et al, to pick up on the "quality" of data.

Whilst it makes sense for the government to outsource non core functions, you have to wonder if managing this data is, or should be, considered core the business of the Department of Health?

Further, if they had to outsource it, Telstra may have had the cash, but maintaining BAU systems like a database require stability (of the organisation) and I can't help but wonder if that view was taken when Health reviewed the tenderer's submissions (but I am working for an MRI, so I am biased!).

Question is: How much worse does it need to get before someone calls 'Time!'?

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Anonymous Coward

With more than a little knowledge of this, some corrections:

- This is NOT a cancer register/registry

- The contract was signed BEFORE the caretaker period started

- VCS did not and never has made such complaints about Telstra!

- Implementation was due for 1 May 2017, even earlier than 31 May stated in the article

- It's implied that Telstra botched up and made the decision to delay. Is it really likely that the vendor picked a new date itself, independent of the Dept of Health and the medical programs the register supports, and then asked for more money?

- "the government's going to be stung $16.5 million to keep cervical cancer screening running until Telstra's ready". As in, there would be no more Pap smears or other cervical cancer prevention until Telstra's ready, if not for the $16.5m? Me thinketh not.

- The report (tl;dr?) says that it was evident and reported much earlier that the May go-live wouldn't be met. Quite different to stating that Telstra made an announcement at that time.

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Anonymous Coward

Having worked on health/disease registers (including cancer) I was wondering how Telstra botched what was already a fairly well known quantity (and quality). Organisations with fairly unsophisticated IT (but strong privacy protections and understanding of the data from collection to collation) can do this sort of thing (though probably not at the sort of "real-time" speed that data-driven Government seems to expect).

Based on the involvement of Argus I am assuming that they were expecting pretty standardised, structured, data to flow into highly automated systems. This is always a challenge when the data providers are unsophisticated and using unaligned IT systems. Again, these sorts of issues are pretty well known and understood. I have seen a year of coding going into making the standardisation of data from wildly disparate (often fairly unstructured) sources moderately automated - and even then someone had to watch the output for the inevitable spanner-in-the-works.

The solution at the time was to deliver quality first, then work on timeliness as an iterative process - probably not what the Government was after, and not the sort of thing a for-profit would be eager to go for as it effectively prolongs the time you are doing expensive hands-on work

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