Department Foreign Affairs & Trade  
Annual Report - Contents
DFAT Annual Report 1998-99

Australian Diplomatic Communications Network, ADCNET :

Sub-program 4.1


The Information Management Branch of the Passports, Services and Security Division administers this sub-program. Through the Australian Diplomatic Communications Network (ADCNET), the department provides two major services: a secure communications system underlying the whole-of-government cables network, and a secure office desktop facility which is also extended to a number of other government agencies. These services are provided to more than 100 sites in Australia and at Australian overseas posts.

Table 51 Australian Diplomatic Communications Network, ADCNET (4.1) Resources Summary Table


1997-98 Actual ($’000)

1998-99 Budget ($’000)

1998-99 Budget and Additional Estimates ($’000)

1998-99 Actual ($’000)



Running costs

23 528

22 198

22 628

22 530

Other program costs

10 025

11 512

11 512

10 733

Total appropriations

33 553

33 710

34 140

33 263

Less adjustments

1 374

9 026


13 550

Total outlays

32 179

24 684

34 054

19 713

Staff years





n.a.: Not applicable.

Objectives, Performance Indicators and Result


To maintain communications to and from Australian missions overseas, and to improve the service through the implementation of the Australian Diplomatic Communications Network, ADCNET.


Client satisfaction with the secure communications network and secure telecommunications infrastructure.

Feedback received through our regular consultative processes with clients during the year indicated a high level of satisfaction both with the ADCNET system and with the department’s support. A trial secure system designed specifically for small posts was installed at four overseas posts (Belgrade, Malta, Nicosia and Pohnpei) and at the Brisbane State office; this system also received favourable feedback. We finalised an agreement to install ADCNET in Canberra at the Department of Environment and at Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry – Australia. Wider installation will take place following minor changes resulting from feedback from trial posts.

Figure 38 Australian Diplomatic Communications Network, ADCNET (4.1) Organisational Chart

Figure 38

We also continued to provide training related to the ADCNET system, holding 219 courses for staff from the department and other agencies. Client feedback from the 621 officers trained was overwhelmingly positive.

Table 52 ADCNET Training





Number of courses




Number of staff attending courses




n.a.: Not applicable (training was held continuously).


Availability of communications to clients through the secure network; and the timeliness of cable delivery.

The department sought to ensure a high level of availability for all communications services. These services include the formal cable system and electronic mail services within the secure system, the cable and electronic mail services within the ‘in-confidence’ system, the private voice services between Canberra and some posts, and the emergency radio and satellite communications systems. Delivery of cables was completed within the service guidelines set by the department. Continued communication services to Belgrade during the NATO air campaign demonstrated our ability to operate the network effectively in unstable and unpredictable environments.

Problems we experienced during the year with cable delivery on the in-confidence system, temporarily disrupting our service, were rectified with the installation of a more robust email system (Lotus Notes). This installation is due to be completed by July 1999.

During the year, the department completed development of contingency data and voice connections to all Australian overseas posts to ensure availability of communications regardless of Y2K-related problems, as well as completing a Y2K software upgrade to the ADCNET system. In addition, we upgraded the communications services provided to the Department of Defence to allow secure email to be exchanged between Canberra and Defence representatives at overseas posts. We also simplified communications between the mainframe system of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs and overseas posts, in conjunction with the latest release of our in-confidence system.


The development and implementation of an information technology and information management strategy to provide improved, timely and secure access to information by Australia- and overseas-based officers.

In July 1998, we published the principles and recommendations of our Information Management Strategy. This strategy’s primary principle is to develop a common platform for the department’s two computer networks—ADCNET (‘secure’) and NNS (‘in-confidence’)—to improve productivity, simplify support arrangements, reduce costs and enhance the security of our information.

During the year, the department largely completed a key phase of the strategy’s implementation, the software platform for a fully converged IT infrastructure. The installation of this platform—Lotus Notes—will be completed in July 1999. As well as providing a more robust email system, the software provides a platform on which more efficient administrative systems can be developed. These include personnel and financial management systems, as well as systems for managing ministerial correspondence and consular services.

For the second year running, the department received an award for excellence in communication and office automation from the Technology in Government Committee. This year we received the Gold Government Technology Productivity Award for work on our standard worldwide release of the in-confidence system.


Successful completion of a message management simplification project to determine ways of reducing the complexity of system administration tasks at overseas posts, including a review of the current small posts model.

In June 1999, we completed the design and trialling of a new system for the smallest posts, which requires less administrative input. This will help to simplify and improve the efficiency of systems operations overseas.


Upgraded contingency plans to deal with any potential failure of the technology underlying the cable service.

Contingency data and voice connections have been provided to all Australian overseas posts to ensure availability of communications regardless of Y2K-related problems. We also completed a Y2K software upgrade to the ADCNET system, which was well received by our Australian clients, as well as by our post in Wellington which was included in the initial phase of the overseas upgrade program. The Y2K-compliant ADCNET software has now been installed on 50 per cent of the department’s servers; the remaining 50 per cent are at overseas posts.

In addition, development and acceptance testing of a new central message switch was largely completed. When installed, this will reduce reliance on increasingly scarce and expensive support for the department’s mainframe system. We expect that it will be fully operational by early 2000, following an extended installation period.


The extension of Year 2000 contingency planning beyond internal systems to include those of relevant overseas countries at high risk of non-compliance, and the identification of strategies to deal with those situations.

The department gave priority to Y2K contingency planning for overseas posts to ensure staff welfare and continuity of the department’s and other Government organisations’ critical operations. This included a detailed analysis of the Y2K preparedness of all overseas countries in which Australia has official representation, and was conducted with input from other Australian Government departments, other governments, and leading research organisations. The Government is currently considering a report with recommendations on contingency actions for all overseas posts. We also advanced significantly our contingency planning to support the department’s key functions in the event that remediation work undertaken on the department’s internal information technology and telecommunications systems fails during the critical period, December 1999 to March 2000.

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