by Bonnie Gardiner

Auditor-general releases damning report into Victorian govt IT spend

Apr 15, 20153 mins

Victoria’s auditor-general has found that around 35 per cent of the 1249 ICT projects active across the state government since 2011 went over budget and a third were yet to be completed.

In a report released Wednesday, the auditor-general, John Doyle, also found that almost half the projects had either missed, or were anticipated to miss, their planned completion dates.

Overall, the government’s average yearly ICT spend between 2011 and 2014 was $3.02 billion, about double that of previous estimates of between $1 billion and $1.5 billion. The report declared Victorian agencies and entities are not in a position to assure ICT investments have resulted in sufficient public value to the taxpayer.

Further, the report found the state government has been generally unable to comprehensively report actual ICT expenditure, or the status of projects.

Business cases were prepared for a little over 70 per cent of projects analysed, yet only 38 per cent of business cases had the minimum required elements, such as financial analysis and expected benefits, and less than 25 per cent had a benefits realisation plan, the audit found.

When reviewing how much was spent from 2011–12 to 2013–14, the report found top spenders were the former Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and Victoria Police.

It also noted that HealthSMART and Registration and Licensing (RandL) Program — two of the most expensive government IT projects — were not even included by agencies in their initial response to the audit.

Further, the initial project cost for the most expensive ICT project, the myki ticketing solution was only partially reported,” the report said.

“At the request of the audit team, information on these projects was subsequently provided by the former Department of Health, VicRoads and Public Transport Victoria, respectively.”

The report said that the difficulty many agencies had in providing basic information had raised concerns about the current level of scrutiny applied to the status and performance of ICT projects.

“This lack of accountability is serious and needs to be addressed urgently,” auditor general, John Doyle said.

“I am also particularly disturbed that the certified and attested information submitted by agencies and entities for this report is, in some instances, clearly incomplete and inaccurate.

“Because the central agencies tasked to provide effective leadership have not taken on this responsibility, and particularly because no public value has been shown for significant ICT investments, I have come in to seek accountability.”

The audit recommended a number of measures to improve transparency of ICT spending. These included annual reporting of government ICT spending and establishing “public-facing reporting mechanism that provides relevant project status information on ICT projects across the public sector.”

Key metrics and project information reported should include, but not be limited to: costs, timelines, governance, and benefits realisation, the report said.

The Victorian Auditor-General’s Office said it would undertake a rolling program of more focused examinations of selected ICT projects, which we will select on the basis of cost, scope and impact, as well as the extent of any delays and/or deviations from the initial project approval.