NSW iVote integrity ‘at risk’ over jobs axe


The integrity of future NSW elections could be under threat after the state’s Electoral Commission lost a number of “very specialised skills” amid a spending axe.

The Electoral Commissioner John Schmidt admitted he had to let a number of people go in the cabinet’s iVote arm after funding for them was discontinued, which posed a “challenge” for the beleaguered department.

Schmidt’s admission comes just six months after iVote system went down on the eve of NSW’s elections. 

Revealed during a State Premier and Finance committee on 5 September, Schmidt highlighted the “core capability” reduction and its effect on the” risk of failure [and] a risk of something going wrong”.

“The worst outcome… is that the outcome of the election is called into question and we have to do it again and the integrity of the Electoral Commissioner or the commission is called into doubt as well,” he said. 

Set up to ensure people who have a disability, are sick or are outside of the state on election day can vote, the iVote registration system failed to load in the recent election’s run-up, causing unprecedented pressure on the service’s phone line, as reported in Computerworld.  

A week earlier, the platform came under scrutiny after security flaws were found in the voting system in Switzerland, which developed by Scytl, the same creator of NSW’s iVote. 

Schmidt addressed these “user experience problems” as down to “normal IT technical problems — nothing malicious from overseas”.

“Having said that, we have to be alive to the fact that it is a potential risk,” he added.  

However, Member of the Legislative Council Robert Borsak raised concerns about any potential roll-out of iVote to general elections due to international hacking incidents, especially in the US and in China. 

“In light of recent overseas hacking events — and we have seen a lot of that; it has chewed up a lot of news time in the United States, especially supposed Russian hacking of the presidential election for Trump a few years ago and also some activities of the Chinese we are told, from time to time — all these reports have certainly got to give you some pause in relation to the technologies they are using,” Borsak said. “And the iVote technology is quite old now, as far as I understand it.”

Although Schmidt claimed the system was refreshed before the last election, he also expressed reservations about its wider use. 

“I am committed to iVote,” he said. “I am not arguing for an expansion of iVote. iVote serves a purpose for a particular tranche of electors. iVote was originally introduced for blind, low-vision or disabled electors.”

“I believe it serves a valuable function for people who might otherwise be disenfranchised,” he added. 

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Tags nswivoteelectoral commissionRobert BorsakJohn Schmidt

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NSW Government iCare claim platform cost $360M


A bespoke platform to power the NSW Government’s recently-merged insurance provider has cost $360 million dollars, a public hearing for the Inquiry into Budget Estimates 2019-2020 revealed.

Insurance and Care NSW (iCare) first launched the Guidewire Insurance Platform in 2017 following its formation from six public insurance schemes two years previously.

The NSW Government paid $160 million in licence and building fees for the cloud-based platform, plus a further $200 million on the “transformation” costs of rolling out the platform across iCare and other insurance.

The figures were revealed by iCare CEO and MD John Nagle during a State Premier and Finance committee on 29 August.

When grilled by Greens MP David Shoebridge about the $160 million expenditure, Nagle defended Guidewire as a “standard system” that is one biggest insurance platforms used globally.




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NSW Police issue warning about TeamViewer enabled remote access scams – Security – Software


NSW Police have issued a warning that scammers are increasingly using TeamViewer’s remote access software to target personal and business computers to capture banking and email data.

Cybercrime Squad commander, detective superintendent Matt Craft, urged the public to remain vigilant when downloading software online after the police force became aware of the increasing number of remote access scams.

“These types of scams are becoming more frequent as scammers take advantage of new technology, products and services to convince the community to provide their personal information,” Craft said.

NSW Police has advised that the public shouldn’t allow people to remotely access their computer, especially if the person is unknown or can’t be identified – especially if they ask to download TeamViewer or any other remote access tool.

TeamViewer has achieved somewhat of a cult status for producing surprises with sysadmins, not least because of some its more alternative uses. But we digress.

The NSW Police are urging people to be wary of unsolicited phone calls, warning that callers engaged in legitimate businesses “don’t just call customers and ask for confidential information”.

The Australian Cyber Security Centre issued a similar warning about remote access scams earlier this year, saying that scammers had been impersonating government cyber security officials.

“Many of these scams are quite sophisticated, but there is almost always a ‘tell’; we urge all individuals and businesses to ensure they remain vigilant when dealing with requests to vary account details or payment methods or to download software,” Craft said.

As with most other scams, the giveaway is that the product or outcome on offer is usually too good to be true, Craft said, reminding people to be alert and suspicious of unsolicited phone calls by people requesting personal details or for the receiver to download anything on the internet.

“Never give your personal credit card or online account details over the phone unless you made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source.

“If you have doubts about the identity of any caller who claims to represent a business, organisation or government department, contact the body directly,” he added.

The police force said any suspicious activity should be reported to NSW Police or Scam Watch, and that people shouldn’t “let scammers press your buttons” as they use “detailed scripts to convince you that they’re the real deal and create a high-pressure situation to make a decision on the spot”.

If concerned about a scam or possible loss of personal data, NSW Police advises people to run an antivirus scan, contact their financial institutions, and report the matter to the police or to Scam Watch.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission reported that Australian lost $4.8 million to remote access scams last year, an increase of 95 percent from 2017.


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NSW govt puts a cap into tech consulting fees – Finance – Cloud – Software – Telco/ISP


Technology consultants earning thousands of dollars a day on transformation projects in NSW government agencies are set to have their daily rates capped, as the state’s Finance Minister Damien Tudehope metes out strict new IT cost controls stipulated in 2019 State Budget.

Tudehope has confirmed to iTnews plans are now being drawn-up to apply cost controls similar to a crackdown on so-called Big Four consulting fees, which that caps consultants’ maximum daily rates at $4000 and includes a price schedule for specific grades and kinds of work.

The Finance minister is unapologetic about the big clawback that is on the Budget books at $731 million.

“This is all about ensuring we get the best advice in order to achieve the best outcome at the best possible value for NSW taxpayers,” Tudehope told iTnews.

“The capped rates work to reduce consultancy costs and deliver better value for money. These capped daily rates apply to a subset of consulting services under the Performance and Management Services Prequalification Scheme.

“The NSW Government is also in the process of developing a commercial framework for IT Consulting under the ICT Procurement Scheme,” Tudehope said.

Notably, telecommunications consultants are already roped in under the Performance and Management Services Prequalification Scheme (PMSPS).

The rollout of price caps for consulting rates, which hit on 1st July, has prompted concerted grizzling within major consultancies.

The state government’s now not-so-secret rate card was also leaked to the Australian Financial Review.

But the capped rates in NSW are comparatively monastic to that of Canberra, where McKinsey reportedly bowled up a daily rate of $16,000 in a pitch document for work on the overhaul of Human Services to Services Australia.

Treasurer and Former finance minister Dominic Perrottet has long had his eye on reducing the sometimes rapacious fees extracted by consultants, especially for increasingly commoditised work like service digitisation or embedding agile practices into agencies.

A protracted technology skills shortage hasn’t helped either, especially when banks pay rates well above government for permanent or long contract tech talent, a situation that’s allowed consultants to thrive by becoming price-makers not price-takers.

One issue the NSW government has to carefully navigate setting services rate caps is not to price itself out of the market, especially for limited skills pools that are also in high demand in private industry.

Some public sector agencies are currently allowed to pay ‘out of band’ for particularly hard to fill roles, with hotspots known to include cyber security and financials systems rebuilds.

What constitutes IT consulting as opposed to ‘performance and management services’ has become a bit of a moveable feast.

With digital delivery now becoming mainstream, what were once discreet tech practices now appear to be getting bolted onto other business lines covered by the ban.

Buried under umbrella consulting “engagement types” like business processes, project management and change management are a subset of “capabilities” that set out specific areas covered by the PMSPS and thus the consulting fee cap.

Under “government and business strategy” the capabilities of “Organisational Design / Transformation” and “Business intelligence” are listed while “project management” scoops up “’Lean’, ‘Agile’, ‘Design Thinking’”.

“Financial services” collects “IT investigation and forensic financial investigations” for forensic accounting, while audit, quality assurance and risk gets external audits of “general computer controls (including information systems security).”

Salesforce consultants will not be please. CRM systems get a mention under the “service delivery” section of “specialised services.”

A date for when the IT consulting “commercial framework” come into effect was not provided.

The current PMS scheme changes listed for suppliers include “the introduction of a standard commercial framework for the PMS Scheme including role type definitions, capped resource rates, discount structure and capped expenses.”


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Bluetooth-enhanced guns, new body-cams on the way for NSW Police – Strategy – Hardware


Circumstances in which police firearms are drawn and deployed could soon be automatically recorded in NSW under a proposal to increase accountability.

NSW Police is planning to introduce Bluetooth-enabled firearms and Tasers to make it possible to record incidents on body-worn video (BWV) cameras as soon as officers draw their weapons.

Police Commissioner Mick Fuller revealed the plan during budget estimates last week to increase the use of BWV cameras, which currently rely on officers manually initiating recording.

The state’s top cop said the proposal was part of “a much bigger piece of work” that will also see the force ditch its existing fleet of Fujitsu/M-View BWV cameras for devices that can ‘talk’ to the proposed weapons.

The force began deploying BWV four years ago to improve evidence gathering and to encourage good behaviour from officers.

As of July 2019, NSW Police has amounted 5217 body-worn video cameras – or approximately one for every three of the 16,000 sworn police officers across the state.

But the existing cameras rely on officers manually beginning recording during interactions with the public, which has raised accountability concerns.

Fuller said there was now an “assumption” that the cameras could talk to both firearms and Tasers, so that when officers draw either “not only does [an officer’s BWV camera] turn on but everyone’s turns on within 100 metres”.

“So where I want to be is that there is much more certainty from a Bluetooth perspective around mandatory videoing of those types of situations. But for that I will need technology,” he said.

“I certainly do not fear videoing much more often, but I do need to say that the BWV camera will have to be updated, our Glock will have to be updated and then the Taser technology will have to be updated as well.”

“They need to be Bluetooth-enhanced so that if an officer draws their firearms the Taser turns on, the in-car video turns on, any police camera turns on.”

The need for new BWV cameras to automatically activate when a firearms or Taser is drawn is the result of a decision by NSW Police’s Taser vendor to stop including a camera on the Taser.

“The manufacturers are stopping using the cameras because there is a fault in some of the Tasers between the camera and the actual electrical components of the Taser,” Fuller said.

“All of a sudden, I have a problem that the manufacturer is going to stop making them with cameras, so them all of a sudden … the Taser does not talk to the body-worn camera.”

The current Tasers, which Fuller describes as “the best Tasers in the word”, are capable of recording one-and-a-half hours of footage through the ‘Taser Cam’ when an officer arms the Taser.

Fuller said the work would be the subject of a “new capital works program” request for government, which NSW Police is currently in the process of developing.

Updated body-worn camera policy

Alongside automatic recording when firearms and Tasers are drawn, Fuller also said the force was currently reviewing the BWV policy to ensure officers are using the cameras more often.

“We are against making it mandatory [that is] you turn it on the minute you hop in the car … but we want to make the use of it much more often,” he said.

“We want police to use it to protect themselves.”

He said the new policy would look at introducing ‘trigger points’ for when a camera should be activated.

“Is it when you step out of the police car, is it when you do this or do that? Obviously we will look at that, but I want officers to use it more; I want the policy to really define when they need to use it more,” Fuller said.


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Bluetooth-enhanced Glocks, new body-cams on the way for NSW Police – Strategy – Hardware


Circumstances in which police firearms are drawn and deployed could soon be automatically recorded in NSW under a proposal to increase accountability.

NSW Police is planning to introduce Bluetooth-enabled firearms and Tasers to make it possible to record incidents on body-worn video (BWV) cameras as soon as officers draw their weapons.

Police Commissioner Mick Fuller revealed the plan during budget estimates last week to increase the use of BWV cameras, which currently rely on officers manually initiating recording.

The state’s top cop said the proposal was part of “a much bigger piece of work” that will also see the force ditch its existing fleet of Fujitsu/M-View BWV cameras for devices that can ‘talk’ to the proposed weapons.

The force began deploying BWV four years ago to improve evidence gathering and to encourage good behaviour from officers.

As of July 2019, NSW Police has amounted 5217 body-worn video cameras – or approximately one for every three of the 16,000 sworn police officers across the state.

But the existing cameras rely on officers manually beginning recording during interactions with the public, which has raised accountability concerns.

Fuller said there was now an “assumption” that the cameras could talk to both firearms and Tasers, so that when officers draw either “not only does [an officer’s BWV camera] turn on but everyone’s turns on within 100 metres”.

“So where I want to be is that there is much more certainty from a Bluetooth perspective around mandatory videoing of those types of situations. But for that I will need technology,” he said.

“I certainly do not fear videoing much more often, but I do need to say that the BWV camera will have to be updated, our Glock will have to be updated and then the Taser technology will have to be updated as well.”

“They need to be Bluetooth-enhanced so that if an officer draws their firearms the Taser turns on, the in-car video turns on, any police camera turns on.”

The need for new BWV cameras to automatically activate when a firearms or Taser is drawn is the result of a decision by NSW Police’s Taser vendor to stop including a camera on the Taser.

“The manufacturers are stopping using the cameras because there is a fault in some of the Tasers between the camera and the actual electrical components of the Taser,” Fuller said.

“All of a sudden, I have a problem that the manufacturer is going to stop making them with cameras, so them all of a sudden … the Taser does not talk to the body-worn camera.”

The current Tasers, which Fuller describes as “the best Tasers in the word”, are capable of recording one-and-a-half hours of footage through the ‘Taser Cam’ when an officer arms the Taser.

Fuller said the work would be the subject of a “new capital works program” request for government, which NSW Police is currently in the process of developing.

Updated body-worn camera policy

Alongside automatic recording when firearms and Tasers are drawn, Fuller also said the force was currently reviewing the BWV policy to ensure officers are using the cameras more often.

“We are against making it mandatory [that is] you turn it on the minute you hop in the car … but we want to make the use of it much more often,” he said.

“We want police to use it to protect themselves.”

He said the new policy would look at introducing ‘trigger points’ for when a camera should be activated.

“Is it when you step out of the police car, is it when you do this or do that? Obviously we will look at that, but I want officers to use it more; I want the policy to really define when they need to use it more,” Fuller said.


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NSW revamps project funding, seeks to end ‘tech spaghetti’


The New South Wales government this year embarked on the “biggest and boldest” machinery of government changes that Victor Dominello has witnessed, the MP last week told a Committee for Economic Development of Australia luncheon in Sydney. 

Dominello, who earlier this year was appointed the state’s inaugural minister for customer service, said that the NSW government has replaced committees other than Cabinet and its Expenditure Review Committee (ERC) with a single ‘Delivery and Performance Committee’.

‘DaPCo’ is chaired by Dominello and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, with the state’s deputy premier, treasurer and the deputy leader of the National Party comprising its other members.

“DaPCo’s role is to ask the hard questions on delivery – how are you actually going to get it done?” Dominello said.

“If you want money, then show me that you’ve mapped out the data architecture, show me that you understand your customers’ needs, and show me that you’re following the Digital Design Standard. I want to see working prototypes of services, not big business cases.”

In the past major IT projects began with pitching a “big business case” to Cabinet’s ERC “asking for hundreds of millions of dollars upfront and reams and reams of paperwork to back it up”.

Now any project that has a delivery aspect, including IT projects, needs to first go to DaPCo.




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NSW quietly delays digital driver’s licence launch – Software


NSW citizens will have to wait a while longer to ditch their physical driver’s licence, with the state-wide rollout of digital permits now expected to take place in “late 2019”.

The electronic vehicle licence was expected to become available to all citizens from August following a series of pilots in metropolitan and regional regions over the last two years.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet even spruiked the proposed launch date for the opt-in digital pass in his June budget speech.

“After successful trials in key locations – New South Wales drivers will be the first in the country to have a choice of a digital driver’s licence from August this year,” he said.

But all mention of the August launch date has since been removed from the Service NSW website and replaced with “late 2019”.

A Service NSW spokesperson told iTnews the rollout would now take place “in the coming weeks”, but would not indicate why the launch had been delayed.

More than 14,000 citizens are already using the digital driver’s licence on the the Service NSW app for police checks and to gain access to pubs and clubs in the trial areas.

Dubbo was the first regional city to take part in the trial in late 2017, followed by Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs last year and the border city of Albury earlier this year.

Participants of the pilot are, however, still required to carry their physical driver’s licence through the trial period.

This will change with the state-wide rollout, with citizens to be required to ensure they can produce either a digital or physical version of their licence when requested to do so by police.

The legislation, which was introduced and passed in May 2018, also addresses privacy concerns by only requiring driver to display their digital licence to police.

The digital driver’s licence is also said to better protect citizen against identity fraud, with the pass “encrypted and stored securely on a person’s device”.

NSW’s digital driver’s licence will be the second to be introduced in Australia, and follows the South Australian government’s, which was introduced in late 2017.

Other digital licences are available to NSW citizen, including recreational fishing licences, responsible service of alcohol competency cards, and responsible gambling competency cards are.


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NSW Police dragging feet on mobile device rollout – Strategy – Projects – Hardware


The rollout of mobile devices to frontline police officers in NSW is falling behind the efforts of other jurisdictions, with only a fraction of the total police force currently covered by the deployment.

This is despite the impending launch of digital driver’s licences across the state, slated before the end of this month, prompting new rationale for the devices.

NSW Police has been gradually rolling out additional ‘MobiPol’ devices to operational and specialist officers since introducing the first 500 Samsung Galaxy Note 4 smartphones in February 2015.

The ‘MobiPol’ devices give officers the ability to access the core operational policing system, which the force plans to replace with a new all-in-one system, to perform background checks on vehicles.

But more than four years after the initial deployment of devices, Australia’s largest police force has rolled out only 4200 additional devices to frontline officers.

A spokesperson told iTnews that the “approximately 4700 Samsung MobiPol handsets and tablets” deployed to date. This includes both Samsung Note 8 and 9 devices following a “standard refresh” by Telstra.

While this is double the number of Samsung devices that were available to officers at the end of June 2017, the figure means the vast majority of the 16,000 sworn police officers don’t carry a device.

A further 1200 Apple iPads are also deployed across the force after being purchased from Telstra by individual commands, though these are not MobiPol enabled.

The only other similarly sized police force in Australia, Victoria Police, has deployed in excess of 9000 Apple devices for its 14,600 police officers.

This is despite starting the $118 million rollout well after NSW Police, after the deployment was pushed back to late 2017 due to complexities with the build.

By comparison, WA Police plans to introduce 3500 devices for a force consisting of roughly 6000 officers.

However, despite the limited number of devices, NSW Police still managed to issue 94 percent of infringements using MobiPol devices last financial year.

Digital licences prompt new funding

With the digital drivers licence poised to rollout state-wide, the MobiPol devices is set to gain a new purpose as a tool for scanning licences against backend police systems.

While this is just one of the ways police can verify the new opt-in electronic licences, the ability to scan a licence would remove the need for police to examine visual security features like they would a physical licence or radio back to the station for more information.

It is one of the reasons why NSW Police is planning to deploy a further 800 MobiPol devices over the next 12 months after receiving $1.6 million in this year’s budget.


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