news The Federal Government has announced it will not sell off the Intra Government Communications Network (ICON) – a fibre network connecting public service buildings throughout Canberra.
The government describes ICON as a secure point-to-point fibre network between public service buildings (usually departments and agencies) in the region. The network was first created in 1991 when the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade installed a cable between the John Gorton Building and York Park via the intervening government offices.
A statement by Finance Minister Mathias Cormann last week follows an independent scoping study into the future ownership options for ICON, which concluded that a potential sale or lease would not represent value for money for the government.
The study found that ICON provides “significant value” to the government as a strategic asset and is “highly valued” by government agencies for its low cost and high volume bandwidth, which facilitate the provision of secure cost effective telecommunications services.
“[T]he Government has made a decision to retain ownership,” Cormann said.
The findings of the study suggested ICON could also potentially play a central role in enabling broader whole-of-government technology solutions in the future, such as cloud-based services.
The study also found that 17 out of the 34 agencies already running protected networks, use encryption over ICON. Remaining agencies will be moving toward encryption over time.
Cormann said the Government “supports and will act on” a number of recommendations made by the study to boost the value of ICON, including:
- Developing a technology strategy, taking into account ICON’s potential role within a whole of government ICT framework
- Introducing service level agreements to clearly define the level of service and improve on delivery
- Reviewing the internal financial arrangements to provide for future funding for strategic investment needs
- Improving governance arrangements to address due diligence issues such as property access rights, carrier licence exemption, third party use of ICON and title issues.
Cormann said the government has already commenced a program of work to implement these recommendations.
Several days ago, technology media outlet Delimiter filed a Freedom of Information request for the scoping study, following an ABC revelation that Finance Minister Mathias Cormann had received the study and that the government was currently considering the future of the network, including a potential sale of the asset.
Delimiter will continue to seek the release of the document.
Image credit: Parliamentary Broadcasting