Queensland abandons IT shared services model


Queensland Premier Anna Bligh yesterday revealed the state would abandon its centralised IT shared services model as its exclusive structure for delivering IT services in the wake of the Queensland Health payroll disaster and damaging revelations of widespread problems in associated programs.

“The Queensland Government will abandon the one-size-fits all shared services model as the exclusive model for corporate services across the whole of Government,” Bligh said in a statement. “The whole-of-government IT provider, CorpTech, will be overhauled to better match agency needs – this will include an assessment of which agencies are best served by their own technical services.”

Yesterday the state’s Auditor-General Glenn Poole handed down a landmark report into the payroll debacle, as well as three other massive state government technology consolidation projects.

At the root of the Queensland Health payroll nightmare — which has continued to dog Bligh’s premiership due to a string of Health staff not being paid on time or sometimes at all over the past few months — is the fact that CorpTech, Queensland Health and prime contractor IBM significantly underestimated the necessary scope of the project.

The report stated the project also had poor governance structures and had significantly blown its initial budget.

Three other major technology consolidation projects — which respectively aimed to consolidate datacentre and network infrastructrue, build a centralised email and identity management system and build whole of government finance and HR platforms — also suffered governance problems, and although they hadn’t blown their budget, were drastically behind schedule and had changed “direction, scope and methods of delivery” since inception.

A key player in delivering the platforms has been Qld shared IT services agency CITEC.

Two of the three projects were put in place after the state’s Service Delivery and Performance Commission delivered a landmark report in 2006 — named ICT Governance in the Queensland Government, with a third initiated in 2005.

Bligh said while the principles behind the shared services model worked for some agencies, the government recognised there was a place for larger agencies to remain independent in providing payroll and HR systems.

The Premier revealed PWC Partner Roger McComiskie would undertake a formal review of the shared services business model to be delivered by the end of September this year and presented to the director general of the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

Fixing Queensland Health
Queensland Health will persist in its efforts to remediate its larger payroll issues, but Health Minister Lucas revealed the department would also move to a localised payroll model over the next three months, in which ‘hubs’ will be setup to serve payroll serves around Queensland.

“What people on the ground, working in our hospitals and their unions have told me is that we need local information and local decision making when it comes to payroll – and we have listened to those concerns,” Mr Lucas said. “This will mean a hire-to-retire service in each payroll hub and Queensland Health Corporate Services will be restructured to ensure local payroll systems are adequately supported.

In addition, the Premier said the experience of the Queensland Health payroll implementation had shown a one-size-fits-all approach to payroll across the Queensland Government should be abandoned and Corptech overhauled.

“Larger agencies with complex payroll requirements should be able to use the payroll system which suits them and smaller agencies should have the ability to cluster with similar agencies and utilise the one payroll system,” she said.

Queensland Health’s use of Infor’s WorkBrain rostering system will also be re-examined. “Ernst & Young have been engaged by Queensland Health to provide a review of the most commonly deployed payroll and rostering solutions in the national and international healthcare sector,” said the Premier’s statement.

“Over the next 3 months Queensland Health will work with Ernst & Young in consultation with staff and unions to confirm the most suitable roster and award interpreter configuration that delivers staff the payroll outcome they deserve as quickly as possible. This may involve reconfiguring the current application or introducing alternate solutions.”

“I apologise sincerely to every one of those Queensland Health employees and their families who have been affected by the recent payroll problems,” said Bligh.

Image credit: David Jackmanson, Creative Commons