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Scientists Protest IT Outsourcing

By Dermot Browne, Workers Online,
Issue no. 68, 25 August 2000

Scientists, technicians and administration staff from CSIRO, ANSTO and other science agencies will attend rallies and events in capital and regional cities on Tuesday, August 29, 2000.

They are taking this action as part of a growing public campaign to force the Federal Government to reconsider its plans to outsource their information technology (IT).

According to the CSIRO Staff Association and the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), government proposals to outsource IT infrastructure and services are one of the most significant threats ever to face science agencies and should be stopped.

Affected organisations include CSIRO, Bureau of Meteorology, Australian Nuclear Science Technology Organisation, Australian Institute of Marine Science, Australian Geological Survey Organisation and the Australian Antarctic Division.

Dr Pauline Gallagher, CSIRO Staff Association Assistant Secretary said scientists fear for the future of their work and CSIRO as a whole. The Government wants to put IT systems in CSIRO out to tender out by the end of the year, and appears to have no idea of the serious impact this will have on CSIRO research activity, said Dr Gallagher. CSIRO's success relies on teamwork and the IT people are an important part of that team. Outsourcing make no sense.

Dr Chris Dyt, Scientific Officer with the CSIRO Division of Petroleum Resources in Adelaide is involved in building hydrodynamic fluid models for predicting sediment distributions in ocean basins. Understanding the quality of sediments allows for more reliable oil exploration. We have contracts with US oil companies to do this work and everything I do involves using the computer. We are constantly adding to and changing the program. If I have a problem and I can't fix it myself, then I can get help within an hour or two, but if it is outsourced there may be a couple of days down time while I wait for someone who understands the system, to come.