Payroll problems overshadow Queensland budget


The Queensland Government has unveiled a raft of moderate-sized technology projects in its state budget handed down this week. However, all are dwarfed by a substantial tranche of funding allocated towards the highly public problems suffered by its disastrous payroll systems implementation at Queensland Health.

The project was initially kicked off in 2007 as a replacement for the department’s previous ageing HR system, with the Government inking a $6.19 million contract with IBM for the replacement system, to be based on software provided by German giant SAP.

However, the project quickly ran off the rails, with IBM advising in October 2008 that it had understimated the complexity of the project. In early 2010, the replacement system went live, but malfunctioned severely, with thousands of Queensland Health workers being left out of pocket. Several reviews of the project since have damned its governance, and the state allocated $209 million in November last year for several years’ worth of fixes.

In the state budget handed down this week, the full amount was confirmed as $208.7 million over three years, which will see the system’s bugs completely worked out. Last year, Queensland noted about $46 million of that figure would be spent on improving the system this year, while another $55 million would go towards an 18 month project to add more features to the system and improve its efficiency. It’s not clear what else the full amount will be spent on.

Little was said in the state’s budget papers about the project, with the Government focusing on previously announced action taken to remedy the project’s problems.

A range of other moderate-sized projects and funding allocations which will affect a number of departments and agencies over the next several years were revealed this week, however.

Queensland Health has also received a $61.2 million grant to improve ICT, although the state did not disclose what the funding would be used for. $45 million over three years will be provided to supplement funding from the Federal Government’s Digital Education Revolution project, which is helping give every year 9 to 12 student access to a PC. Queensland’s Department of Education and Training will use the money to support the rollout, provide software licensing and put in place infrastructure, including network equipment.

The state will pay Telstra $35.8 million over three years to decommission its South Brisbane telephone exchange to make way for a new hospital in the area, and funding is also being provided in minor batches to agencies such as Queensland Police, CITEC and more — although substantial details of the projects was not included in the budget.

Image credit: Jamie Woods, royalty free