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Customs Slammed By Audit Office - Suppliers Escape Relatively Unscathed

by Staff Writers •
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On 7 February 2007, the Australian National Audit Office released its report into the much-publicised problems with the Australian Customs Service’s implementation of its Cargo Management Re-Engineering (CMR) project.

The report describes a series of delays and significant cost increases. Initially expected to cost $30 million, the project cost ended up at around $212m.

The report is a damming criticism of IT management within Customs, but vendors involved in the project (CA, IBM, Cybertrust and EDS) have escaped relatively unscathed.

Pointing the finger squarely at Custom’s IT management, the Report said “The management framework that Customs had in place to support this project lacked many of the basic fundamentals necessary to successfully implement a large ICT project.” The report went on to list the deficiencies including:

  • a lack of definition of project outcomes and benefits;
  • no overall CMR project plan;
  • no financial plan;
  • no project budget;
  • no proper assessment of risks facing the project;
  • a lack supporting contractual documentation.

The Report also highlighted that Customs had underestimated the complexity of the project, with early delays leading to pressure on the development and insufficient time for testing.

Vendors involved with the project largely escaped the wrath of the auditor. Laying the blame firmly with the agency, the Report found that Customs displayed a lack of understanding of industry’s business processes, and imposed unrealistic demands on suppliers.

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