Qld Heath payroll: Senior bureaucrats sacked



blog The fallout from the payroll systems disaster at Queensland Health is continuing, as hard as that may be to believe. This morning Queensland Premier Campbell Newman took the unusual step of sacking a number of senior state government bureaucrats who had been involved in the debacle. The Courier Mail tells us (we recommend you click here for the full article):

“A handful of highly paid public servants has been sacked and more are expected to be given their marching orders over Queensland Health’s $1.2 billion payroll debacle. And technology giant IBM could still face legal action by the Queensland Government, with Premier Campbell Newman not prepared to let the matter rest.”

I have to say, I think this is a fantastic move and should have occurred sooner. Accountability of senior public servants for high-profile IT projects is one of the main recommendations which government auditors have consistently called for, to help ensure government IT projects don’t go off track. The Queensland Health payroll systems debacle is one of the worst failures of public administration in Australia’s history, and the public service should be held accountable for that failure. I applaud Newman’s action (provided, of course, he sacked the right staff) and would encourage other state governments to take a similar approach when other massive IT projects fail. It’s time the public servants responsible for this mess — and have no doubt, they are responsible, according to multiple audit reports — felt some of the weight of it.


  1. It should not be limited to IT departments Renai, accountability is long over due in many government departments with the AG department as another one that springs to mind.

  2. I am astonished that accountability was sought out, and then carried out, accountability for spending of taxpayer funds is one of the biggest issues I have with government.

    If we can squeeze more out of the revenue we have by being more efficient and less wasteful, then that is less revenue that needs to be sought, and less programs that need to be axed. I don’t think we can ask our government staff to be perfect, but there are some basic levels of governance/accountability/bench-marking that need to be adhered to in government and simply aren’t.

    • The reason for the lack of accountability is there are no real rewards for been exceptional at your job. If a gov dept comes in under budget that department just gets less money next year, If company Department come in under budget to carry out a project(and therefore makes more profit) well someone is usually getting a bonus cheque. You need the carrot not just the stick. If you only use the stick you attract the risk adverse which might avoid the spectacular big failures, you also avoid spectacular successes or even just the innovative and new ideas and ways of thinking that give you something to point and say look we did this.

  3. The are certainly accountable but ton’t leave IBM out of the frame Renai. The report slams them as well on a number of matters.

  4. The problem is that accountability and fear of blame then absolutely paralyses a department. I’ve been working on a fairly simple Windows upgrade for over 10 months now. But we need say $50,000 to pay an outside contractor to finish the work. This has to be justified to audit committees , process review panels, managers, directors and so on. Then finding a contract company to actually do the work can take months as no-one wants to do government work, knowing the amount of scrutiny they will be under, and the number of legal documents and contracts they have to sign, and the months it will take to get paid,

    So yes, if the upgrade ever does get completed you can be confident that every single cent of that $50,000 will be accounted for. The 10 months and 1000’s of hours of wasted Public servants time as they jump through 101 hoops at every stage of the process probably costs 10x that.

Comments are closed.