Implementation of Corrective Services NSW’s Offender Financials system has become the latest in a long list of ICT projects to attract the criticism of the State’s Auditor-General, Peter Achterstraat.
According to the Auditor-General’s latest review of the operations of Law, Order and Emergency Services agencies, the development of the system is expected to run $620,000, or 28 per cent, over its budget of $2.2 million, and has faced criticism for its unsatisfactory financial governance arrangements.
The system, which is designed to account for receipts and disbursements money by prison inmates, is a module of the Offender Integrated Management System (OIMS) and was commenced in 2009 as a part of the Department of Attorney General and Justice (DAGJ) cluster’s Remediation, Enhancement and Architectural Lifecycle (REAL) ICT program.
DAGJ advised the Auditor-General that the cost overrun came about because “the initial project budget was based on preliminary project estimates and did not factor in some complex technical aspects”.
The remaining components of the REAL program have escaped the Auditor General’s criticism so far. Expected to be completed in 2013, the project remains within its $47.6 million budget, with actual costs of $37.9 million incurred at 30 June 2012.
The program involves remediating and supporting infrastructure for Corrective Services’ core applications, the OIMS, the Business Integrated Management System (BIMS) and Corrective Services Industries Business Management System (CSI BMS), and the Corporate Information Management System (CIMS). The program also covers the implementation of the new Business Intelligence System (BIS) in 2011/12 and the upgrade of Local and Wide Area Network infrastructure across Corrective Services sites.
Although funding for Offender Financials is included in the REAL program budget, the impacts of the project’s cost overrun on the final outcome of REAL are unclear at this point.
The long-running LifeLink and JusticeLink projects have also remained on the Auditor-General’s ICT project radar. The troubled pair has become mainstays of the Auditor General’s reports in recent years.
The latest report is especially critical of DAGJ’s management of these ICT projects.
“The Department needs to assess what went wrong and improve management of its current and future projects,” it says.
LifeLink is a citizen-based information register to replace the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages’ LifeData system.
It has faced significant delays and cost overruns due to recurring contractual issues since its commencement in 2002. It was initially due to be completed in 2008 but underwent a contract change in September 2010. The project was revived in 2012 thanks to a $750,000 budget top-up, which covers an accelerated delivery schedule and an extended warranty period of six months. It is now scheduled to be completed by August 2013 at a final cost of $14.7 million.
The $30 million JusticeLink project aims to implement a single electronic courts document system. It was initially completed in June 2010 for $48 million but an additional $11.8 million worth of enhancements were made in 2010-11, and it has also been plagued with errors due to unresolved interface issues.
The Auditor-General’s report did, however, outline a drop in the total critical and non-critical errors made by the system from 2,250 in 2010 to 1,817 in 2011, which have been attributed by DAGJ to “better controls over the system’s data quality”.
The main contractor under the project is KAZ Group, which was acquired by Fujitsu during the completion of JusticeLink.