#Censusfail aftermath: Here's what's happening inside Australia's board rooms this morning

CEOs tell Vulture South that mega-stuff-ups spark spook briefings, firings, grovelling

Oh to be a fly on the wall in the boardrooms of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) or IBM Australia today, after online census capture form the latter created for the former was taken down after unspecified attacks.

We've been able to do the next-best thing, however, by asking some IT leaders of our acquaintance – folks who’ve been regional leaders of top-tier IT vendors – what happens when things go very, very, pear-shaped on a major and very visible job. The folks we contacted offered their observations on condition of strict anonymity.

For what it's worth, two used the word “clusterf*ck” to describe the incident.

One told us that the first thing to happen would have been a firing at IBM.

Another vendor-land leader said that if his customer's CEO hadn't called already, he'd be at his desk making a grovelling call ASAP, promising that all available resources will be deployed. Once the conversation cooled, the client would insist on a more sober – but warts and all - review to be delivered in coming days.

The vendor's leadership are now front and centre: project team members who still have a job are pushed into the background while the vendor pushes their A-Team into the limelight.

Business class tickets have been hastily acquired for regional bosses to fly to Australia so they can apologetically grovel in jet-lagged person.

A former government IT leader tells us that right now Australia's prime minister is waiting for a personal briefing from the secretary of the relevant department and anticipating the inevitable opposition criticism that the government has botched the job.

Also in Canberra, Australia's capital, sigint agency the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) and GOVCERT are preparing briefings to explain – or try to explain – the nature of attacks.

“ASD will be providing data on where the attacks came from and likely actors,” we're told.

The prime minister's office and Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) will be crafting messages in which they try to prove they took reasonable steps to secure the site and ensure its availability.

The fallout will be nasty. The traditional tactic of placating an angry customer – giving stuff away – won't work because the ABS doesn't need another census and no longer trusts IBM. “I doubt the IBM/ABS relationship will recover from this long-term,” one tech industry C-level told us.

There's panic in the PR offices too – at the vendor, their client/victim and government – as all know they have suffered reputational damage. The vendors' leaders know they'll have to spend more time attempting to impress the likes of El Reg in a long attempt to convince world+dog they're competent and trustworthy. ®


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