September 27th, 2006 at 07:16am
It just keeps getting worse for the embattled Department of Immigration…this time they’ve managed to delete just over 4,900 records of Australian citizens currently travelling overseas, effectively locking them out of the country until the data can be manually re-entered from paper.
Sources inside the Department of Immigration have informed me (and subsequently verified) that the records were lost late last week during routine staff training. Staff were being trained in the use of a system for managing records of Australians who are currently overseas (and possibly others), and were using dummy records for training. Near the end of the day, on a day late last week, the Immigration official supervising the training went home, leaving a mostly trained trainer in charge. Sometime around 5:10pm one of the trainees entered some data incorrectly and asked the trainer for assistance, the trainer advised them to press the delete key, the trainee subsequently queried this advice by asking “are you sure?”, to which the trainer said “yes, press the delete key”.
According to sources, when the delete key is pressed on this system it does not ask for confirmation, and pops up a message when it has completed the task. On this occasion it is believed that the cursor was in the wrong location because the system whirred away for a little while before popping up a message stating that it had successfully deleted 4900 or so records…unfortunately very few of those were dummy records, and most of them were real records, and without them, people in those records are unable to re-enter the country.
“What about backups?” I hear you ask…this system doesn’t have them…apparently it is a deterrent to people playing around with the system…more like a very tempting chaos creator if you ask me.
Immigration are working on restoring the deleted data from other systems and from paper at the moment, no disciplinary action is likely as this was a genuine accident, but procedures are being reviewed.
It is unknown how many people have been affected as they attempted to re-enter the country.