Better IT management sought in NSW after LifeLink woes

The New South Wales Auditor-General has urged better governance and management of major IT projects at the NSW Department of Attorney General and Justice.

In addition, “detailed progress reports on all major information technology projects should be included in the meeting papers for the Department’s Audit and Risk Committee and relevant sub-committees,” Auditor-General Grant Hehir said in a report released today.

In particular, Hehir has recommended that the department undertake an independent review of the management of its LifeLink IT project. LifeLink is the state’s registry of births, deaths and marriages.

“Lessons from this review should be used to improve management of future information technology projects,” Hehir said.

The report noted that the LifeLink IT project, begun in 2002-03 to replace the previous paper-based LifeData system, “has been beset by problems”.

“A total of $3.5 million was written off during 2010-11, but the department successfully recovered $2.7 million through a judgement against the terminated original contractor.

“In 2012, the new contractor informed the department it was unable to deliver the fixed-price contract within the agreed time-frames. As a result, the department believed the project was likely to be terminated and wrote off $10.5 million in 2011-12.”

However, the program has since been revived and is “back on track” to go live next year, Hehir said. It now has a budget of $17.3 million, an increase of $5.9 million.

“On the advice of its consultant, the department has reversed $6.1 million of the amount written off because the project has recommenced with the successful completion of the initial contract milestones,” Hehir said. “The current software delivery date is scheduled for 20 December 2013, with a go-live date of 22 April 2014.”

The Auditor-General reported favourably on another major IT project – the department’s Remediation and Enhancement and Architecture Lifecycle (REAL) program, which was meant to upgrade technology infrastructure and key database systems to enhance prisoner information and management, financial operations, communications and record management.

The REAL program, which began in 2009 and was completed this year, has come in below its $42.8 million budget, Hehir said. The final cost was $40.5 million.

An independent consultant did a post-implementation review of the REAL program this year and is due to report later this month.

The full Auditor-General report can be accessed here.

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Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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