Parliamentarians’ Expense System Suffers 15-Hour Outage Due to Payment Issue

The recent 15-hour outage of the Parliamentary Expense Management System (PEMS) in January had an underlying cause that has been revealed. During a hearing of the Senate Public Finance and Administration Committee, Tracey Carroll, the Department of Finance’s first assistant secretary for business enabling services, addressed the issue while answering questions from Liberal senator Jane Hume.

Carroll explained that the problem stemmed from an administrative issue between the department and the company responsible for managing the two-factor authentication system used by PEMS. The unpaid invoice for the 2FA software led the provider to cut off access to the system, resulting in the outage.

According to Carroll, the billing arrangement with the provider had changed, which contributed to the problem. The department had identified a billing issue, realizing that they hadn’t been charged appropriately. While they were working to resolve this matter, access to the 2FA software was abruptly terminated.

To prevent such issues in the future, the department has modified the billing arrangement. Going forward, they will be billed in arrears rather than in advance, ensuring a smoother and uninterrupted operation of the system.

This incident highlights the importance of timely and accurate payment processing in maintaining critical services. It serves as a reminder to organizations to review and update their billing arrangements to avoid disruptions. The outage of the expense system for parliamentarians underscores the need for effective communication and coordination between departments and service providers to address administrative issues promptly.

As the department takes steps to rectify the payment problem, it is expected that similar incidents will be avoided in the future. The incident also emphasizes the importance of robust financial management practices to ensure the smooth functioning of essential systems and services.

FAQ Section:

Q: What caused the 15-hour outage of the Parliamentary Expense Management System (PEMS)?
A: The outage was caused by an administrative issue between the Department of Finance and the company responsible for managing the two-factor authentication system used by PEMS. The problem arose because the department didn’t pay the invoice for the 2FA software, leading the provider to cut off access to the system.

Q: How was the billing arrangement between the department and the provider changed?
A: The billing arrangement was modified by the department to prevent similar issues in the future. They will now be billed in arrears rather than in advance, ensuring a smoother operation of the system.

Q: What does this incident highlight?
A: This incident highlights the importance of timely and accurate payment processing in maintaining critical services. It also emphasizes the need for organizations to regularly review and update their billing arrangements to avoid disruptions.

Definitions:

1. Parliamentary Expense Management System (PEMS) – A system used to manage the expenses of parliamentarians.
2. Two-factor authentication (2FA) – A security measure that requires users to provide two different types of verification, such as a password and a unique code, to access a system or online service.
3. Billing arrangement – The agreed-upon terms and conditions for payment between a service provider and a customer.

Suggested Related Links:
1. finance.gov.au – The official website of the Department of Finance.
2. australia.gov.au – The official Australian Government website.