Queensland Health’s payroll system may be on the road to recovery, but management of whole-of-government and agency ICT projects must be improved in order to achieve strategic objectives and outcomes, said Queensland Auditor General Glenn Poole in his latest report.
Improving the effectiveness of ICT project management was one of four recommendations in the Auditor General’s Information Systems Governance and Security Report, which audited 14 Queensland public sector entities to assess their performance against the objectives of the Toward Q2 through ICT Strategy. The Report was tabled to Parliament on 21 June 2011.
According to the Report, Queensland Government entities are engaging in significant ICT projects which are not achieving their intended benefits and outcomes due to the absence of an identified business owner or business owner representative body.
“This has resulted in a lack of overall commitment at the individual agency level in the implementation of the technology being produced through these programs,” said the report.
Major ICT projects such as the New Queensland Drivers Licence and Land Tenure Ledger Redevelopment programs have suffered as a result, experiencing significant delays and cost blowouts since their introduction.
The Department of Transport and Main Road’s New Queensland Drivers Licence project will introduce smartcard driver’s licences, which store digital photographs and signatures within an embedded computer chip for increased security. Originally announced in 2003 and intended to be completed by 2009, the licences aren’t expected to be rolled out until the end of 2011. The cost of the project has grown from an estimated $84 million to $148.3 million.
Similarly, the redevelopment of the Land Tenure Ledger, which will replace the Department of Environment’s Resource Management’s 15-year-old legacy system, has been delayed by two years and has increased in cost from $5.4 million to $8.75 million.
On a more positive note, the Auditor General reports that Queensland Health is progressing well with the improvement of its payroll and rostering system, with a new payroll model now implemented.
Of the 11 issues raised in Poole’s highly critical report on the Queensland Health payroll debacle in June 2010, two have been resolved, while nine are currently being addressed by the Department.
Intermedium’s analysis of the latest Queensland Budget revealed that $209 million has been allocated in 2011-12 to implement the new Queensland Health payroll operating model.
Poole also recommended that the overall governance framework for ICT management on both a whole-of-government and agency level be strengthened, especially in relation to risk management practices and ICT strategic plans.
The absence of these elements may result in a disparity between service delivery and business needs, advised the report.
“IT initiatives may not be aligned with the business priorities and plans, or support whole-of-government IT directives,” it said.
Improved information security management and shared services IT disaster recovery were the Auditor General’s third and fourth recommendations.
Information security, according to Poole, is not well understood at a whole-of-government level despite its ever-increasing level of importance as more government services are delivered online. Implementing adequate controls to mitigate the risks associated with online payments are critical to ensuring client confidence, he said.
Finally, an end-to-end review is recommended for disaster recovery management so that roles and responsibilities for managing risks are clearly defined. This requirement has been emphasised by recent natural disasters in Queensland, which have tested some of the elements of disaster recovery planning. The critical role of ICT systems means their continued operation must be ensured.
“This involves a significant investment of time and money to ensure minimal losses in the event of a disruption,” said the report.
The Queensland Government allocates approximately 5% of the State’s Budget each year to ICT each year, which equates to approximately $1.5 billion in 2011-12.