In dire straits after #CensusFail, ABS to axe up to 150 staff

Give us the sound of rolling dice heads

After the collapse of Australia's Census on August 9, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told radio shock-jock Alan Jones “Lots of people are trying to find out who to blame and what heads should roll” at the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

And now we know that the first heads to roll will be rank and file staff, at least according to the Community and Public Sector Union, which says "cuts to ongoing funding for the Australian Bureau of Statistics have forced the agency to slash up to 150 jobs."

The troubled bureau has previously revealed that the IBM-led debacle on Census day, August 9, had put in the order of AU$30 million to the torch.

That overspend won't make life any easier for the Bureau. Even if it can find a way to extract penalties from IBM, either through the census contract or the courts, doing so would be expensive, slow, and - given IBM's impressive wriggle out of liability for its health payroll systems debacle in Queensland - possibly unsuccessful.

The ABS has told the Community and Public Sector Union between 100 and 150 jobs will be cut.

The union says the ABS says the jobs will be cut via a voluntary redundancy process.

After the Census was taken offline by what the bureau persistently claims was a DDoS attack, a hilariously-inadequate attempt at disaster recovery took out the bureau's backup router, which hadn't been power-down tested before going live.

The system had been designed to resist internationally-hosted DDoS attacks by blocking requests from non-AU IP addresses. IBM, however, hadn't noticed “Island Australia” in the design specs, and was handling password reset requests in an offshore server.

In October, chief statistician David Kalisch revealed the $30 million cost estimate in a Senate committee. ®

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