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Auditor slams $27m Fuji Xerox DMS contract

Thursday, 25 January 2018
By Print 21 Online Article
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The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has delivered a scathing attack on the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) over its $27 million contract with Fuji Xerox Document Management Solutions to scan ballot papers in the 2016 federal election.

In a 67-page report, the Audit Office accused the AEC of failing to achieve “value for money” and criticised ballot security, saying the commission had “accepted IT security risk above its usual tolerance.”

The AEC paid Fuji Xerox DMS – the only supplier asked to quote – a total of $27.2 million to develop and deliver a scanning system to capture voter preferences from Senate ballot papers.

The ANAO report says the system largely failed and required a full manual recount that took many days and increased costs by up to $8.6 million.

The AEC has not demonstrably achieved value for money in its procurement of Senate scanning services. It has not used competitive pressure to drive value, nor given due consideration to costs in its procurement decision-making.

The report found that because of a three-month timeframe to design and deliver the system, compromises were reached between the AEC and Fuji Xerox, including dumping the requirement to comply with government IT security frameworks.

The Audit Office also found there was a ten-month delay in instructing Fuji Xerox to delete all ballot paper images and data files.

Both Fuji Xerox and the AEC defended their efforts.

Wassim Hage-Hassan, operations director NSW of Fuji Xerox DMS, told the ANAO audit team:

Fuji Xerox worked with the Australian Electoral Commission to deliver a technology based solution that accurately captured voting preferences and still met the immutable deadline to declare an election result.

 Fuji Xerox believes that the solution provided in conjunction with AEC Senate Reform team was a world first in regards to technical and operational delivery in a very tight (approximately 3 month) design, development and implementation time frame.

 The solution also delivered value for money for the Australian public given the risk profiler, accuracy, scale and immutable deadlines of the design, build and delivery phases of the project.

‘Impressive accomplishment’: Tom Rogers, AEC

AEC electoral commissioner Tom Rogers told the Audit Office that the Fuji Xerox solution was an “impressive accomplishment,” especially given the time frame.

In the extraordinarily short period of three months, and without prior warning, the AEC successfully developed and then implemented a robust, effective, technologically-advanced and entirely new system for counting, under high levels of scrutiny, some 15,000,000 Senate votes in multiple locations around Australia.

 After the report was released, AEC spokesman Phil Diak added: “The AEC, 12 weeks out from the 2016 election and in response to parliament’s passing of new Senate voting arrangements – the biggest in over 30 years – developed successful and secure arrangements to ensure that over 14 million Australian voters had their say and voted in the 2016 federal election. The AEC stands by what was achieved and is proud of it.”

The full report is available here.





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