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Queensland IT Minister to target “dirty dozen” ailing systems

by Paris Cowan •
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Queensland’s Minister for Science, IT, Innovation and the Arts, Ros Bates, has told a Senate Estimates Committee that of the 997 legacy systems identified by the Government’s ICT Audit, there is a “dirty dozen” causing her particular concern.

 “These are business critical systems that need replacing urgently,” said the Minister, who gave evidence while connected to an intravenous drip following recent surgery. “These systems are now receiving the careful planning that was lacking from the former Government.”

Her office had yet to specify the 12 systems at the time of publishing.

While the findings of the Audit, being headed by Government Chief Information Officer Peter Grant, won’t be handed down until the end of the month Bates shared some of its early discoveries.

“More than half—approximately 53 per cent, or 997—of the Queensland government’s ICT systems could be considered legacy. It will cost between $3.7 billion and $6 billion to replace these systems.

“About 10 per cent of these systems are in such poor technical condition that they require urgent replacement. Those systems will cost approximately $196 million to replace.

“The interim ICT audit has also discovered that 17 per cent of technologies within the Queensland government either are on extended support or are currently unsupported,” she said.

One of these unsupported systems is the Department of Community Safety’s (DCS) payroll solution which it uses to pay the State’s ambulance officers, fire fighters, prison staff and emergency workers, and which was first developed in the early 90s.

Bates said that the solution has been outside vendor support since September 2008, and warned that its age means that those who knew how to run it are nearing retirement.

The DCS received $100 million in funding over four years in the 2012-13 Budget to replace the ageing system, with Budget Papers suggesting that the project was likely to be outsourced to the private sector. This was the largest new ICT allocation in the Newman Coalition’s first Budget handed down in September.

Minister Bates said that system duplication was another area on her ICT hit list, which is likely to foreshadow a broad consolidation drive in the coming years in the Queensland public sector.

“The taxpayers of Queensland are paying for 128 case management systems, 190 financial management systems and 109 document and record management systems. The estimated cost of operating all of these systems is $80.1 million annually,” she said.

Just in her Department of Science, IT, Innovation and the Arts (DSITIA) machinery of government changes have left behind eight different payroll systems and six different financial systems to manage just 3,900 staff members. Bates has said in the past that an approach to market to replace these disparate systems with a single outsourced solution is on its way.

In other estimates hearings, Director of the Parliamentary Service Neil Laurie has advised the Committee that he expects the replacement of the Queensland Hansard Production System (QHAPS) to be completed well under its budget. The current system is based on Adobe Framemaker 7, which is incompatible with the Windows 7 operating system.

The project received $190,000 in the 2011-12 Budget which has yet to be spent, and another $100,000 in the 2012-13 Budget. Tenders for the replacement closed in September.

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