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Failing projects cannot hide, warns Queensland IT Minister

by Paris Cowan •
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It has been touted by the Government itself as an “IT strategy to avoid another health payroll debacle”.

And certainly one of the biggest contributions that Queensland’s new whole-of-government ICT plan makes towards turning over a new leaf on a turbulent ICT past is the introduction of a number of measures to strengthen governance, oversight and transparency of ICT.

The Queensland ICT strategy, released today, introduces a new structure of ICT governance to the State which borrows heavily from its neighbours in NSW by introducing a board of department heads which together with the Minister will have the power of veto on major projects.

Minister for Science, IT, Innovation and the Arts Ian Walker told Intermedium that he thinks this will be crucial to making sure ideas, experiences and lessons learnt are shared.

“We will have a Directors-General Council which will make sure that things can’t happen in a department without everyone in government knowing about it. So a department cannot go off on its own without other Directors-General saying we’ve done it this way, or we’ve already got a system that does that,” he said.

Once the Council has given its tick of approval and the project is in the hands of the department, the previously announced IT dashboard will make sure that issues of mismanagement cannot be hidden from the public gaze.

“If you cast your mind back to the Health payroll system, I’m sure that had there been a dashboard in place at the time the speedometer would have been going round so quickly that people would have seen that something needs to be done.

“The dashboard doesn’t meant that there won’t be problems. There will be and they will show up with the appropriate red flag. But at least that red flag is there and I think that provides a big incentive to keep things on budget and on time for both departments and suppliers providing services to government,” Walker said.

The Strategy will also see a gateway review process introduced for ICT, so that projects that fail to pass periodic progress assessments will be put on hiatus until their issues are resolved.

That other State plagued by ICT initiatives it would rather forget, Victoria, has had such a system in place for many years – but still beleaguered projects have been able to slip through the gaps. Earlier this year the Victorian Auditor-General found that not a single agency completed all six stages of the State’s ‘mandatory’ Gateway Review Process for major projects in a decade of operation.

The Victorian experience puts all of these mechanisms into perspective because none of the Minister or his department’s good intentions will mean anything if agencies don’t cooperate with their implementation.

“I think it’s very necessary to ensure that there is adhesion to the core parameters and the core values that we have set out for acquiring IT,” he said. “However, we don’t want a situation where departments who know their business best don’t have an opportunity to go out and do what is best for them.”

“I think all of these measures put together are going to make for a very different environment for the roll-out of IT in government and I am very confident that they will make sure that the Government’s main objectives are met, while at the same time giving the departments the autonomy to make the business decisions that are best for them,” he continued.

Today’s release of the ICT strategy, which consisted of a framework of principles and values for CIOs and IT managers to operate by, will be followed by an ICT implementation plan revealing more detail on how these objectives will be met.

The Strategy will also undergo an annual review process to make sure it remains in step with Queensland Government policy directions.

View the DSITIA profile on GovFacts >>>

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For more information, please contact the Editor (02) 9955 9896.

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