by Byron Connolly

Audit reveals sad state of Victorian government IT projects

Mar 09, 2016
GovernmentProject ManagementTechnology Industry

A failed rollout of an infringement management and enforcement system at Victoria’s Department of Justice Regulation – costing taxpayers $60 million – is one of six technology projects across the state to come under scrutiny in a report released today.

The Victorian Auditor-General’s Office has analysed technology projects worth a combined $200 million with the Department of Justice Regulation’s rollout being terminated in early 2015, six years after the expected completion date. This project also cost double the intended budget.

The government and the vendor engaged for the rollout were forced to reach a legal settlement in a situation that the report said was “simply not acceptable.”

The Digital Dashboard: Status of ICT Projects and Initiatives – Phase 2 report also scrutinised projects at City West Water, the University of Melbourne, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation, Worksafe Victoria, and Yarra Valley Water.

This is the second audit of Victoria’s IT woes. A report released last April found that around 35 per cent of the 1,249 projects active across the state government since 2011 had gone over budget. A third weren’t completed.

Most of the projects examined under the latest report faced significant challenges at various points during implementation, the audit said.

According to the report, City West Water’s Arrow Program – which is still in progress – will cost $122 million by completion, $16 million over the original budget.

The University of Melbourne’s ISS student management system is finished and has cost $30 million, which is $7 million over the original budget.

Both the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation’s information system and Worksafe Victoria’s electronic document and records management system rollouts were ‘de-scoped’ and cost $11.61 million and $25.64 million respectively.

Finally, Yarra Valley Water’s improving infrastructure management system program has been completed for $26 million, which is $9 million over its original budget.

The report said that all six audited agencies had defined and formalised governance arrangements in place for their ICT projects. But these arrangement didn’t prevent other project management weakness from adversely affecting planning and implementation, the report said.

Weaknesses observed included: an inadequate assessment of the vendor’s capability to deliver the project; ineffective governance and poor management; and an inability to appreciate and specify business requirements for the ICT system being purchased, including the changes/upgrades required for it to integrate with existing infrastructure.

It also observed a failure to provide appropriately considered advice to senior management at key stages of the project.

“This audit confirms that ICT projects continue to show poor planning and implementation, resulting in significant delays and budget blowouts,” the report said.

However, the Auditor-General’s Office said it saw elements of better practice at the University of Melbourne and Yarra Valley Water, which contributed to the completion of their respective projects.

“ICT projects in the Victorian government should be more effectively planned and management to avoid cost and schedule overruns.

“While clearly defined governance arrangements do not necessarily guarantee a successful ICT project, agencies should work on developing a robust culture of active governance at the senior management level, to make informed decisions and to effectively engage with consultants and vendors,” the report said.