The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has finalised a five-year International Communications Network (ICN) upgrade programme – with industry expertise being sought on a range of contracts from 15 November 2013.
The ICN initiative is designed to modernise DFAT’s core ICT systems and infrastructure, together with better managing a “strategic asset” that links business operations at more than 140 sites worldwide.
This network supports core domestic and international services. These include consular services, the issuing of passports and visas, as well as sharing domestic and international policy, especially that involving national security.
DFAT’s communications platform incorporates a highly-secure IPv6 compliant network that connects more than 130 sites worldwide. This channel supports classified data communications, and is also being modernised between 2013–2017.
Earlier, DFAT unveiled plans to enhance its Diplomatic network while fast-tracking upgrades to voice, video and data communications.
Details of DFAT’s industry briefs are available at Government Tenders. Categories coming up for renewal include unified communications, telephony and video conferencing capabilities, as well as telecommunications and associated services.
Security and reliability
Mr Tuan Dao, DFAT’s chief information officer, told an industry briefing the department is seeking to deliver a more secure, reliable and cost-effective global communications network.
Latest upgrades also meet the department’s fast-changing business technology needs. More than 45 client agencies across the Australian government will benefit from DFAT’s latest procurement effort.
Building ICT inventory
Among its modernisation efforts, DFAT is building its desktop, back-end servers and data storage systems’ inventory.
Mobile apps are now available for a geographically-dispersed workforce, and travellers. A mobile version of the Smart Traveller offering can be downloaded on smartphones and other mobile devices.
Developers earlier built an iPhone smartraveller prototype. This initiative enables the department to enhance its mobile-web capability, and is seen as an important milestone toward integrating internet and mobile apps.
A passport redevelopment programme involves introducing new passport systems and technology to improve client services, and make passport-handling systems more secure and efficient. DAFT issues between 1.7 to 1.8 million passports each year.
At any given time, consular staff handle up to 1,500 active cases. Dedicated consular staff number just 160 of the more than 4,598 employees, as well as permanent, and part-time contractors.
The department is also securing its telephone and video-conferencing facilities. It will phase out legacy systems and infrastructure, while positioning itself to take advantage of new and emerging technologies.
Digital information management
Under moves to transition paper records to a digital environment, DFAT has finalised an electronic document and records management system (EDRMS) project. The EDRMS initiative supports the ability to manage records more efficiently, in an on-line environment, while meeting complex legislative requirements.
DFAT’s portfolio agencies include AusAID (Australian Agency for International Development), Australian Trade Commission (Austrade), Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), and the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC).
In other news, Mr Michael Hirschfeld, DFAT’s assistant secretary for ICT policy and planning shares insights about project management at the industry’s flagship FutureGov Summit Australia 2013 being held Monday 2-3 December in Canberra.