news A new report from Victoria’s Acting Auditor-General Dr Peter Frost has criticised the state government over failed and badly planned ICT projects that he said were, in some cases, “not acceptable”.
The report, tabled yesterday, is called Phase 2 of the Digital Dashboard: Status Review of ICT Projects and Initiatives and looked into six ICT projects to see whether they were appropriately planned, managed and implemented in terms of time, cost, benefits provided and governance.
The six projects examined were City West Water, the Department of Justice & Regulation, the University of Melbourne, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation, Worksafe Victoria and Yarra Valley Water.
Dr Frost said in a statement: “As highlighted in many previous VAGO reports, and again in this audit, weaknesses in planning and implementation mean that [ICT] investments often do not meet functionality expectations nor demonstrate expected outcomes; come in well over budget and/or delivered much later than planned; or are cancelled prior to completion, while still incurring significant costs.”
In one of the projects examined as part of the audit, the statement explained, the government agreed to terminate its investment when it became evident that the vendor could not complete the project.
The decision to cancel was finally taken more than six years after the agreed completion date for the project and cost Victorian taxpayers nearly $60m.
“This is simply not acceptable,” said the Acting Auditor-General.
“It is the responsibility of the executive leadership to ensure that the appropriate behaviours and skills set are in place to ensure the successful delivery of ICT projects,” he continued. “A robust culture of active governance at the senior management level is essential to making well-considered decisions and effectively engaging with vendors. Being an informed and vigilant ICT buyer is critical for success.’
Over and above delivering new ICT capabilities, the report stressed the need for government to focus on the realisation of benefits from its ITC projects and further made a call for clear guidance on how agencies can learn from their “collective experience”.
To this end, the report restated elements concerning better practice from VAGO’s 2008 report Investing Smarter in Public Sector ICT to help agencies deliver ICT enabled projects more successfully.
These elements, together with lessons identified by the agencies involved in this new audit, “could and should be better shared and applied across government”, the statement said.
“When done right, information and communications technology (ICT) enables the efficient delivery of government programs. When done right, government ICT will deliver on Victorians’ rightful and growing expectation for faster, more reliable and ubiquitous services,” Dr Frost concluded.
Image credit: Still from Gladiator