An Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report has found that the Bureau of Meteorology failed to achieve its ICT goals in the development and implementation of the Australian Water Resources Information System (AWRIS). The report, released on 5 February, reviewed the Bureau’s administration of the Improving Water Information Program, a $480 million program begun in 2007 to address poor quality information on water resources and provide greater information sharing.
The Bureau abandoned AWRIS 1 in September 2013. AWRIS 2, a new design from scratch, is now planned to go live in December 2014.
The report provides a case study for agencies seeking to expand information sharing under the umbrella of Gov2.0. It outlines a range of difficulties associated with consolidating information from multiple sources and stakeholders in a common format and making that information available in readily downloadable and usable forms.
While stakeholders are generally positive about the program, the report says the Bureau of Meteorology spent $38.5 million on Australian Water Resources Information System (AWRIS) and associated IT systems and applications but that the “comprehensive data quality approach originally envisaged for end-to-end water data collection, management and analysis, has not yet been realised”.
The report acknowledges that the Bureau has improved collection and categorisation of water data, however there have “been major challenges and constraints in using AWRIS to manage the data for the production of new products and services. The development of AWRIS has been problematic with unclear business and system requirements, inadequate technical solutions, shortcomings in governance arrangements, changes in design and approach and unanticipated costs and delays that have limited the functionality of the system... as a result most products have been introduced later than originally planned by the Bureau with varying degrees of coverage and completeness”.
The Bureau has accepted and implemented all of the recommendations of the report, including:
- Major IT projects (including AWRIS) are now identified as major deliverables in the Bureau’s operational plan, and progress is reported regularly to senior management.
- From July 2013, the Bureau established an Information Systems and Services Division to enhance capability. An enterprise-level Portfolio Management Board is being implemented to enhance project governance and provide regular reviews of the status, cost and overall progress.
According to Intermedium’s Scout IT, the Bureau spent over $270,000 on web development services in November 2013, including $14,223 for Web development training for the AWRA production team and a further $257,000 on web development services from Dialog Information Technology and Infosys Technologies. Intermedium has also identified 6 contracts for AWRIS work with SMS in 2010 and 2011 totalling $2.26 million.
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