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Queensland’s Shared Services woes continue

by Aleks Vickovich •
Free resource

The Queensland Government has announced the terms of reference for an overhaul and independent review of CorpTech, following a second highly critical QLD Auditor General report on the government ICT shared services agency.  The move comes amid the fallout from the problematic health payroll system upgrade, which led to thousands of state employees going unpaid, and is expected to have wide implications for the government ICT market.

In a joint statement with the Minister for Public Works Robert Schwarten issued on Tuesday 13 July, Premier Anna Bligh said her government would “abandon the one-size-fits-all approach to payroll across government” and that CorpTech will be “overhauled to better match agency needs”. 

The Government has now commissioned PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ Roger McComiskie to conduct a wide-ranging review of whole-of-government shared systems, to complement the implementation of the recommendations of the Auditor General’s two reports. 

The latest report conducted by QLD Auditor General Glenn Poole, tabled on 6 July 2010, has made clear a number of serious security, change management and governance problems in the operations of both CorpTech and CITEC, the shared services agency responsible for IT infrastructure.  The report stated that “while some high risk control issues have been addressed and improvements in controls have been made, these have been replaced by new equally high risk issues”.

The report identifies key high-risk issues as being:

  • Finance and human resource applications standardisation;
  • General computer controls, especially user access and other security issues;
  • Electronic Funds Transfers (EFT) and the introduction of ‘e-forms’;
  • Operating level agreements and the management assurance framework;
  • System disaster recovery and risk exposure; and
  • The impact ‘segment reporting’ and Annual Leave Central Scheme issues may have on the accuracy of financial statements.

The report also singles out the problem of legacy systems as an area of particular concern. It states that despite efforts to migrate unsupported systems into preferred environments there remains a “significant number of legacy systems” in place:

  • Eight legacy SAP systems;
  • Four Aurion payroll systems;
  • Two LATTICE payroll systems; and
  • One TSS payroll system.

Some of these unsupported legacy systems are no longer covered by vendor support agreements, meaning that they have to be maintained separately, thereby increasing monetary and labour time costs.  Furthermore it is suggested in the report that unsupported systems may spread the payroll processing problems experienced by Queensland Health.

In conclusion the Auditor General conceded that “CorpTech is making progress towards implementing a new service management tool which is anticipated to address the identified weaknesses” but that by contrast CITEC has made “minimal progress” in moving towards analogous solutions.  Until this report, the bulk of recent criticism has been levelled at CorpTech rather than CITEC.

But it is not only CorpTech and CITEC that are being blamed for the problems surrounding shared IT services.  IBM has also come under considerable fire for their role in the health payroll affair and has been issued with a ‘show cause’ notice from the Government. 

Meanwhile Shadow Public Works Minister Jann Stuckey has aimed her fire squarely at Mr Schwarten, arguing that “it is becoming clearer by the day that this Minister really has no idea what his department is doing with the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been collected for these (shared services) projects”. 

  • QLD
  • IT Services
  • Policy
  • Anna Bligh
  • CorpTech
  • glenn poole
  • Jann Stuckey
  • PriceWaterhouseCoopers
  • robert schwarten
  • Shared Services