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More delays reported for Victorian Department of Justice IT projects

by Paris Cowan •
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The list of late or suspended IT projects  within Victoria’s Department of Justice (DoJ) has expanded, with several budget appropriations being carried over into 2011 due to missed deadlines according to the Department’s recently released Annual Report.

DoJ’s ICT record has suffered lately, with two major projects – the transition of the Police’s Law Enforcement Assistance Program (LEAP) to a new LINK platform, and the implementation of the Integrated Courts Management System (ICMS) – falling behind schedule and over budget.

The $59 million LEAP replacement was postponed earlier this year when it was realised that organisers had underestimated the complexity of the project, and how hard it would be to get the new software, an off the shelf solution from Canadian vendor Niche Technology, to work in unison with the programs it relied on to feed it data.

Originally due to be rolled out at the end of 2009, the latest annual report says that the project is still temporarily suspended, and does not offer a revised completion date.

The ICMS is also in project limbo. The $45 million courts system was announced in 2005, and was intended to provide a single platform which would integrate all existing IT infrastructure used by Victorian Courts and Tribunals. It was scheduled for completion in June 2009.

Instead, June brought only a critical report from the auditor general, outlining the delays and budget blowouts experienced by the project. Its due date was rescheduled for August 2010, and has been further postponed to February 2012 according to the 2010 Annual Report.

The Report also details delays at the Office of Public Prosecutions (OPP) and within the Infringement Management Enforcement Services (IMES) branch of the DoJ.

The OPP intends to replace its Practice Management System with a more efficient, workflow-based version. According to the Office’s own Annual Report, research and assessment of tenders for this project has already taken place.  An EOI was issued in December 2009 and shortlisted candidates were to have been invited to tender in February 2010.

Similar to the LEAP replacement, however, it seems that the difficulty of the project was not fully grasped during the planning stages and according to the latest DoJ financial documents it has been, “delayed due to the complex nature of the IT systems”.

Allocations set aside to replace the operating platform of the IMES branch, which is in charge of the management of speed cameras and the processing of infringement notices, have also been carried over to the current financial year owing to deadlines which have not been met. 

Operation of many IMES functions is outsourced to Tenix Solutions, and Tenix was responsible for the initial integration of the Department’s five Infringement Management databases into a single system. Company documents suggest that they will also be responsible for the current platform upgrade, however no discrete tender or contract documentation has been released.

ICT has been a very contentious issue for the current State Government, which faces an election this November. The result of the upcoming trip to the polls could well impact the ICT procurement intentions of Victorian Government agencies.

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