The census stuff-up has cost taxpayers $30 million

Photo: Frederick Florin/ AFP/ Getty Images.

Australia’s first online census in August was a major disaster for the Bureau of Statistics, with millions of households unable to log in to complete the required forms.

The organisation later blamed the fiasco on IBM, saying the system was hosted by IBM under contract to the ABS and the “DDoS attack” should not have been able to disrupt the system.

As it turns out, the debacle has cost taxpayers a whopping $30 million.

The head of the Bureau of Statistics, David Kalisch, has apologised for poor judgment and said the system should have been more robust.

David Kalisch at the Senate estimates hearing.

He also thanked the Australian population for “their forbearance and diligence” in completing the census which was taken offline at what would have been the peak period for submitting forms.

“The ABS tested the patience and commitment of many households especially through the difficulties accessing the call centre and the unavailability of the census online form for nearly two days,” he at the start of a Senate estimates hearing.

“We made a difficult decision to take the system offline on August 9 to ensure the security of census data, but we should not have got to that point, and the system should have been robust to denial of service events.

“We have to date probably incurred additional costs of around $20 million … and we anticipate possibly spending another $10 million,” he said.

The digital system was intended to save $100 million.

Following the event, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has said there would be serious consequences as a result of the review by cyber security advisor Alistair MacGibbon:

“The review and which heads will roll where and when is something that will follow.”

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