Look, I’m not suggesting a Royal Commission here, but I absolutely think that we need to ask some tough questions and get solid answers to ensure that all government departments and agencies learn from this, and we somehow begin the process of restoring faith in “online” activities like this.

I’m sorry, but the 2016 Census has to be declared null and void. Millions of people have completed it, Millions more will try to over the coming days and weeks, but many more, possibly millions just won’t bother. We risk getting the results and finding that they just don’t stack up, and the last thing we need are governments of all levels using irregular data to plan important services.

Regardless, $10 million was spent just on the system, goodness knows the total cost which is yet to be revealed. Almost half a million dollars of which was spent on “Load Testing” to confirm it would all handle as it should.

It didn’t.

The Prime Minister needs to appoint an independent consultant with complete access to the ABS to find out what happened.

Why? Because Australians simply won’t trust an “online census” again, let alone it sets back any future “online” government services 5-10 years. Don’t even think of proposing electronic voting right now!

There are some simple questions that need to be asked. Let me help the Prime Minister with these suggestions – and I’d welcome your contributions in the comments below.

  1. When load testing was conducted, who set the benchmark by which the tests should be judged?
  2. How many concurrent, per second, and hourly users and submissions was the test setup to simulate?
  3. How was that number calculated in the first place?
  4. Who was responsible for that calculation?
  5. How many companies responded to the tender for Load Testing the 2016 Census site and forms?
  6. What was the basis for choosing the winning tender for the Load Testing?
  7. What server infrastructure was put in place to handle the scalable load required for Census 2016 Online?
  8. What consultation took place with large private online enterprises to compare or gain advice on handling large scale online traffic?
  9. Who was responsible for the communication campaign leading up to Census 2016.
  10. Why was the campaign not targeted more toward spreading the “load” of submissions over a greater period – given the lengthy window within which submissions are being accepted.

That’s just a start.

We need some answers.