Some of the NSW Government’s most troubled ICT projects have finally drawn to a close, but not before leaving the State’s public sector significantly out of pocket and repeatedly raising the ire of the Auditor-General, Peter Achterstraat.
The Department of Attorney-General and Justice was still making last minute adjustments to its JusticeLink system last year, despite originally scheduling the completion of the project for 2006, according to an Audit of the State’s law enforcement, justice and emergency services agencies tabled on 23 November.
The Department passed what it identified as the final JusticeLink completion milestone in 2010, $18 million over budget with a total project cost of $48 million. However, the Auditor noted that another $11.8 million worth of enhancements were made to the system in 2010-11, including changes to business processes, client services and best practice.
In December last year, the then shadow Attorney-General (now sitting Attorney-General) Greg Smith told the Sydney Morning Herald that the Coalition would closely review the JusticeLink project if it won government, following revelations that the Justice Department had been forced to pay 22 people $2.7 million in compensation for wrongful arrests that came as a result of bail conditions not being properly communicated through the system.
The earliest incarnation of the system, which acts as an inter-agency content management system for court documentation, was launched in February 2008.
The Auditor-General should also be glad to see the end of Sydney Water’s Maximo consolidation project, which was completed in June 2011 slightly over its revised budget of $40.1 million, but exceeding its original budget of $18 million by more than 100 per cent.
According to a report on the State’s environment, water and regional infrastructure agencies tabled on 18 November, “the main reasons for revising the delivery date and budget were project complexity, changes to the approved timeline, extending the timeframe for operational acceptance testing and effort required by the Corporation’s resources and the system integration service provider”.
However, implementation of Sydney Water’s new Customer Management System still lies ahead for the state-owned corporation, with just the planning phase completed and $55 million already spent. The project is forecast to cost $69 million overall.
However, other projects that are unfortunately familiar to Achterstraat will remain on his radar for some time yet.
The Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages was forced to once again start its LifeLink identity database from scratch in September 2010, after it terminated its contract with UXC for the implementation of the system. The Registry was able to recover $2.7 million of the $3.5 million it had spent on the project up until the termination following legal proceedings taken against the systems integrator.
The Registry entered into a new contract in September 2010, but the details have not been published on the NSW eTendering website. The LifeLink project is now expected to be completed by August 2012.
The Auditor-General was also critical of the lack of integration that has taken place within the Department of Attorney-General and Justice since Juvenile Justice was legally transferred into the cluster in April 2011.
“As I reported last year, progress on integrating policies, operations and systems of all entities transferred into the Department was limited,” said the report.
“The transfer-in of new divisions in 2010–11 has compounded the issue. For example, the finance functions of each division are maintained on separate systems, they apply different accounting policies, report separately and have separate audit and risk committees and internal audit functions,” it added.
However, the NSW Government’s ICT troubles pale in comparison to those of its Victorian counterpart, according to a report released by the State’s Ombudsman, George Brouwer, on 23 November.
“Each of the 10 projects I examined failed to meet expectations; most failed to meet delivery timeframes; and all ran over budget. The original budgets for these projects totalled $1.3 billion. The latest estimated cost is $2.74 billion – an additional $1.44 billion cost to government,” Brouwer said.