Massive extension to Services Aus data contract hidden for years


Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

Services Australia’s contracts with Canberra Data Centre have now passed $300 million after updates published in recent weeks revealed a massive increase which had not been reported by the agency for years.

Services Australia has held a contract with Canberra Data Centres (CDC) for a lease at its Hume data centre near Canberra since 2011.

It was originally set to run for a decade to 2021 at an expected value of $223.6 million.

The contract has been updated with an amendment to the original notice and the issuing of a new contract notice in recent weeks.

Computer data centre
‘Secret’ cloud services

The newest notices shows a new period of 2016 to 2023 valued at $189 million. This notice was only published last week, nearly six years after the new contract period started.

The latest change pushes the contract period out another 14 months but also increases the value by more than $70 million.

Services Australia now expects to pay CDC $295 million over 11 years for a lease at the data centre.

Services Australia confirmed the two contract notices reflect changes to a single contract it holds with CDC, which has been extended in time and value.

“There have been no changes to the services provided,” a Services Australia spokesperson told InnovationAus.com.

“Our contracts are established through standard procurement processes in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules. We always aim to publish Contract Notices on AusTender within the required timeframe.”

Separate Services Australia contracts for a CDC lease at its Fyshwick facility, professional services and hardware take the total amount spent with the local supplier past $300 million.

It is unclear what happens when the massive data centre contract ends next January.

Services Australia declined to comment on another potential extension or approach to market for commercial in confidence reasons.

Anything purchased by the Australian Government that meets minimum cost threshold and is not subject to national security protections must be reported on the AusTender website within 42 days of the agreement being signed.

In the lead up to this year’s federal election, Labor promised to improve Austender reporting with more consistency in the way that contracts are described and categorised on AusTender, requiring the total value of multi-year contracts to be made public, requiring contract amendments be published with a reason for amendment, and regular reporting of entities that fail to comply.

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