Double the budget, six years late — and scrapped: Victoria’s ICT woes

An ICT project for a new for infringement management and enforcement system at Victoria’s Department of Justice and Regulation blew out to double its initial budget and extended more than five years past its delivery day before being killed in March 2015.

The infringement management system is one of $200 million worth of troubled IT projects highlighted in a new report from Victoria’s auditor-general.

The project had an initial budget of $24.9 million but the full cost at termination was $59.9 million.

The failure left the department with a legacy system that as early as 2006 had been deemed incapable of meeting user requirements, according to the report.

The debacle meant that commencement of the state’s Fines Reform Act 2014 has been pushed back (initially it was scheduled to take effect on 1 July).

The project is one of the half dozen scrutinised in a the report (PDF) released today by the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO). None of the six projects investigated were completed or will be completed as initially budgeted.

Of the other projects only one has been finished on schedule and most faced significant challenges during implementation, the report said.

The audit followed on from a damning, high-level assessment of ICT spending in Victoria that was released last year.

The Digital Dashboard – Phase 1 report found that the government was spending $3.02 billion a year on ICT — significantly more than previous estimates — and that 35 per cent of the 1249 IT projects analysed for the audit went over budget.

Almost half of those projects missed or were anticipated to miss their initial planned completion dates.

Although business cases were prepared for around 70 per cent of projects, only 38 per cent of business cases had the "minimum required elements, such as financial analysis and expected benefits," the Phase 1 report said.

The other projects investigated for the Digital Dashboard: Status Review of ICT Projects and Initiatives – Phase 2 report released today were City West Water’s Arrow Program, the University of Melbourne’s unfortunately named ISIS student management system, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation’s Liquor and Gambling Information System (LaGIS) project, the WorkSafe Victoria Electronic Document and Records Management System (EDRMS) project, and a Yarra Valley Water project to improve infrastructure management.

The audits confirmed a finding from the first Digital Dashboard report that government agencies are not tracking the complete costs of projects, the report said.

Apart from the Yarra Valley Water project, the projects’ timelines suffered significant blowouts, with the LaGIS and EDRMS projects ultimately de-scoped.

The audits found weaknesses in project management including inadequate assessment of the vendor’s capability to deliver a project and ineffective governance, and an inability to fully specify business requirements for new ICT systems,

“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,” acting auditor-general Dr Peter Frost said in a statement.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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