Social media under review at Defence

Two major ICT projects worth up to $1billion green lighted by Defence minister Stephen Smith

Defence minister, Stephen Smith, has announced a review into Defence's use of social media as well as green-lighting two major new technology projects.

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In a statement Smith noted the progress of an ADF review of social media — a source of new challenges for the ADF and the Defence organisation — following the publicity around the recent use of Skype in a misconduct incident.

“The review will examine Defence's obligations in relation to the use of social media by its employees and the organisation, and make recommendations to mitigate associated risks and to harness opportunities to improve Defence's work and reputation,” Smith said.

Consulting firm George Patterson Y & R will carry out the review and develop measures to ensure that the use of new technologies is consistent with Australian Defence Force and Defence values, he said.

Smith also said “first pass” approval had been given to a Battlespace Communications System project, costing up to $500 million, and aimed at providing the ADF with a next generation telecommunications network capability.

According to Smith the system will enable the transmission of information over a range of wired and wireless networking services, such as radios, satellite and computer servers and terminals. It will also allow Defence to link sensors, weapon systems, commanders and personnel in a networked environment.

“This project will enable Army and elements of the Air Force to replace ageing mobile communications infrastructure services and provide commanders with an increased level of situational awareness, command and control and information sharing capability,” he said.

Smith has also approved a “pre-first pass analysis” into the costs and risks associated with streamlining and improving its human resources and payroll systems for military and civilian personnel. The project is also expected to cost up to $500 million.

The push to overhaul these systems was announced in February last year by then defence minister, Greg Combet, following issues with Defence personnel being incorrectly paid.

The announcement was flagged earlier in the June 2009 $700m Defence ICT Reform Program, and moved to tender in September.

Since then listed services company UXC (ASX: UXC) has picked up a contract with Defence to update the technology platform supporting Defence's Human Resources Management System (PMKeyS).

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