Atlassian and the CovidSafe team

Denham Sadler
National Affairs Editor

Australian tech darling Atlassian is among the five private companies that helped the federal government build its COVID-19 contact tracing app.

More than two million people have now downloaded the COVIDSafe app, which was launched by Health Minister Greg Hunt on Sunday afternoon. It was built largely by the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) after initial work and contracting was done by the Department of Home Affairs.

InnovationAus can confirm a number of private sector organisations also worked on the development of the contact tracing app, which uses Bluetooth technology to record contacts between users, and then send these to a national database and state health authorities if a user confirms they have tested positive for COVID-19.

The companies that assisted the DTA build the app were Amazon Web Services, Boston Consulting Group, Shine Solutions, GoSource and Atlassian, a spokesperson for Government Services Minister Stuart Robert confirmed.

contact tracing
Team COVIDSafe included $500,000 to BCG for a month’s work

Atlassian, the collaboration and communication software giant, is understood to have assisted with the initial setting up of the project, and technical aspects with its development.

The company also worked with Facebook to set up the government’s official WhatsApp information channel. This work was done on a pro-bono basis by Atlassian.

Atlassian co-chief executive Mike Cannon-Brookes has been a vocal supporter of the contact tracing app, urging other tech founders and workers to back it and encourage others to download it.

“Commend the government on some smart privacy and security choices (data deleted after 21 days, open source code, AWS in Australia, sensible sec practices etc). They won’t get it all right – and we as a tech community can help them. Find a bug and help get them closed,” Mr Cannon-Brookes said in a post on Hacker News.

“Fight the misinformation. Remind them how little time they think before they download dozens of free, adware crap games that are likely far worse for their data and privacy than this ever would be.”

Global consulting giant Boston Consulting Group also worked with the government on the app, specifically on usability and design issues involved with its development.

Boston Consulting Group landed a one-month deal with the Department of Home Affairs worth $500,000 at the end of March. The tender was for a “program manager for strategic advice”.

Former Digital Transformation Agency chief strategy officer Anthony Vlasic recently left the DTA – which led the development of the COVIDSafe app – to join Boston Consulting Group in February this year.

The consulting giant is a prolific government contractor and works regularly with the Department of Home Affairs. It provided strategic advice on the government’s doomed visa processing system revamp, raking in nearly $40 million in contracts.

Canberra-based digital transformation firm GoSource assisted with the development of the app. The tech company has secured three contracts worth a total of more than $1 million in the last two months with the Department of Home Affairs.

These contracts are for “ICT professional services” and “software development and support services”, with all three running until the end of June.

GoSource has also worked several times before with federal government departments. Its website sports an endorsement from the Department of Home Affairs for a digital transformation project.

Last year the company landed a range of contracts with home affairs worth nearly $2.5 million. It has also worked with the Department of Agriculture to build a biosecurity monitoring app for Indigenous rangers.

Another app development firm called Shine Solutions Group was also involved in building the contact tracing app. The Melbourne-based company offers “pragmatic enterprise digital solutions”, with its services including cloud managed service, app development and data engineering.

Shine Solutions and GoSource are both Amazon Web Services partners, and a spokesperson for AWS said the two firms “assisted AWS in the delivery of the COVID-19 government app, including the delivery of the web app, including integration and design activities and mobile application development”.

It was revealed late last week that the national database storing contact information of app users diagnosed with COVID-19 would be run on an AWS server.

This likely didn’t require a new contract after the DTA signed a $39 million whole-of-government deal with AWS last year.

The three-year deal makes it easier for government departments to buy AWS services.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

1 Comment
  1. Peter O'Keeffe 4 years ago

    The Australian Taxation Office report in December 2019 that Atlassian Australia Pty Ltd (ABN 98166799542) achieved Total Income of $1,044,197,038, Taxable Income of $137,962,558 and paid $0 Taxation during 2017-18.

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