Page 204 - Week 01 - Thursday, 10 February 2022

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Government—data security

Ministerial statement

MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee—Minister for Skills, Minister for Transport and City Services and Special Minister of State) (10.18): I rise to provide members with an update regarding the actions undertaken by the ACT government in response to the release of de-identified workers compensation claims data on the Tenders ACT website.

In 2018 de-identified information relating to historic workers compensation claims was published on the Tenders ACT website as part of the ACT government procurement process. This tender was part of the ACT government’s transition to become a self-insurer and move away from Comcare as the assessor of workers compensation claims for ACT government employees.

For tenderers to estimate costs and provide accurate quotes, it was necessary to provide interested tenderers with information about the number, nature and duration of the claims that would require management. The spreadsheet included redacted, de-identified information about ACT government workers compensation claims. Importantly, it did not contain identifying information such as names, dates of birth or contact details. The spreadsheet was intended for release only to those tender respondents that had signed a deed of confidentiality to participate in the tender process, but it was inadvertently made accessible to all registered Tenders ACT users.

The spreadsheet was available to registered users on the Tenders ACT website for an initial period associated with the conduct of the tender in 2018, before being removed from public display. A system change in 2020 resulted in this material becoming accessible to registered users again.

Once it was brought to the government’s attention on 24 November 2021 that this spreadsheet was available online and concerns had been raised about its contents, the government rapidly took a number of steps. The spreadsheet was immediately removed from the Tenders ACT website and is no longer accessible to users outside government. In addition, system changes were made to the Tenders ACT system to prevent previously closed tenders from remaining accessible.

Relevant unions were briefed on the matter, and a process was established for individual workers who believe their claims may have been included in this dataset to contact the ACT government for further information.

The matter was referred to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner—the OAIC—for advice and assistance in determining an appropriate course of action. All Tenders ACT users who accessed or downloaded the spreadsheet in 2018 or from 2020 were contacted and asked to destroy all copies. These users were also reminded of the terms and conditions of use of Tenders ACT, which prohibit the distribution or re-transmission of request for tender material to any third party without the prior written permission of the ACT government.

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