The federal government has delayed the release of a report detailing the effectiveness of the $8 million app it delivered in the early days of the Covid pandemic.
The findings of the report are yet to be published, as the Health Department also withholds critical details in documents released through freedom-of-information rules.
Amended laws in May last year required Health Minister Greg Hunt to deliver a report every six months on the performance of the government's COVIDSafe app after the technology became available for use in April 2020.
It added the report was to be "laid before Parliament within 15 sitting days" after its completion.
A final report, prepared by Australian consulting company Abt Associates, was submitted on March 30 this year but has yet to be tabled publicly.
A copywas released to The Canberra Times on Tuesday afternoon under a freedom-of-information request, but references to the findings and evaluation of the app have been heavily redacted.
Mr Hunt's office declined to provide an explanation of the delay on the record, or to say when a complete, unredacted version of the report would be released.
The evaluation was conducted over 11 weeks from September 2020 and included interviews with state and territory contact-tracing officials along with staff from the Health Department and Digital Transformation Agency, according to additional documents released under the request.
However, the majority of the report's findings have been redacted, citing trade secrets and deliberative matters.
Health Department first assistant secretary Paul McBride told a Senate estimates hearing in June there had been trouble with getting sufficient "data" to deliver the reports.
The department said it would instead deliver two reports at the one time, he said.
"We are hopeful those reports will be tabled in the winter sittings but we're still working through that with government," Mr McBride said last month.
"We had trouble getting data that would actually inform this report for quite some time. By the time we got the data, we thought it better to wait for the end of the second six-month period and do it as a job lot.
"We're now combining the two reports, and we will present that combined report; that's the intention."
He denied the government had asked him to delay the report.
Labor's health spokesman, Mark Butler, said the app had not been particularly useful in the 15 months since its release.
In fact, the app had been a waste of millions in taxpayer dollars, he said.
"The COVIDsafe app has been a colossal failure and a waste of taxpayers' money," Mr Butler said.
"Scott Morrison told Australians the app would be our 'sunscreen' - another piece of useless spin from the Prime Minister.
"The app doesn't even work with the highly infectious Delta variant.
"The app has cost taxpayers over $8 million. No wonder Scott Morrison wants to keep secret his waste of taxpayers' money."
In March, it was revealed the app was costing the public purse at least $100,000 a month to stay switched on, despite only having identified fewer than 20 previously unknown contacts in the 11 months prior.
Digital Transformation Agency chief executive Randall Brugeaud told a Senate estimates hearing the COVIDSafe app, which the agency built and released in April 2020, had cost the government $6,745,322 as of January 31, with the development costing nearly $6 million alone.
The app was now in a "business as usual" state, with the Department of Health and the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee having the power to make the decision over whether to continue the app's usage, he said.
"COVIDSafe has moved into what we call a business as usual state and so we apply very small amounts of maintenance," Mr Brugeaud said in March.
"We've made a provision for about $200,000 per month to allow us to make future changes.
"That isn't money that must be ... spent, but we've estimated about $200,000 a month for future feature changes that may be required by the Department of Health."
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