Great example of how politics can destroy necessary IT projects


blog As regular readers of Delimiter may be aware, your writer is on somewhat of a decade-long crusade to educate Australia’s political sector about how not to screw up major technology projects to the tune of billions of dollars. It’s a campaign in the public interest, even if it often feels somewhat futile.

With this in mind, we wanted to note that we very much admire a recent story published by iTnews which details how January 2015 change in power in the Queensland Government caused havoc for a major project in the state’s Public Safety Business Agency. Delimiter has covered this project a bit in the past. In February 2014, we wrote:

“The Queensland Government has committed to replacing the ageing payroll systems used to support its emergency services (police, fire and ambulance) workers with a cloud computing platform, in the second major planned deployment of a cloud payroll application in the state following its billion-dollar on-premises payroll disaster at Queensland Health.

Looks like the Queensland Government is very serious about its ‘cloud-first’ pronouncement. We’re seeing the pedal hit the metal here in terms of major software as a service deployments. This payroll system, if it is implemented, will shortly become one of the largest SaaS payroll deployments within the Australian public sector. Very interesting.”

However, as iTnews reports, the change in government threw the project completely off the rails. The site reports (we recommend you click here for the full article):

“… come January this year, Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Labor party rolled the LNP government and the $101 million PSBA payroll project was halted in its tracks. Despite having already spent $19.8 million on the planning, design and procurement phase of the project, the PSBA team was sent back to the drawing board to come up with something more politically palatable to the state’s new lawmakers.”

To my mind, this situation reflects the perfect example of politics interfering with sensible IT project delivery. It should be self-evidence that the Queensland Public Safety Business Agency requires a new payroll system to replace the same dated technology that much of the rest of the state government is using.

This is not an issue relating to policy or political philosophy — it’s just fact. A sensible project to conduct the replacement was already in its advanced planning stages. And yet, a new Minister comes in and scraps the whole thing arbitrarily, due to the political climate at the time.

This is just garbage decision-making, and it needs to be called attention to. In these sorts of situations, politicians need to spend a great deal more time listening to the recommendations of their own public servants, rather than pursuing political wins. This is especially true in situations such as this one where bipartisanship — the key to long-term stability in major project delivery — is so readily available.

It’s time these lessons percolated across Australia’s political sector nationally, and deep into the bureaucracy. The alternative is — as we’re seeing with this project — complete chaos.

Image credit: United States Geological Survey, public domain


  1. H-o-o-o K-a-a-a-a-y-y-y… Now, back to basics here, repeat after me:


  2. This was a political issue though. The Tory newman government slashed and burned the public service to try and destroy the unions, while increasing the amount of corrupt private sector money being stolen out of the public purse for their mates in big business.

    Labor were elected with a massive mandate to put a halt to the corruption and destruction of the QLD public service.

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