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Victoria making it “harder for underperforming projects to go unnoticed”

by Chris Huckstepp •
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Although the Victoria Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) has not listed the specific ICT projects it intends to examine, it wants to make it “harder for underperforming projects to go unnoticed,” and has scheduled into its two year (2014–15 and 2015–16) performance audit program an audit of major ICT projects and initiatives.  The first reporting on ICT projects can be expected in April 2015.

The audit initiative has been given the title Digital dashboard: status review of major ICT projects and initiatives, 2014–15 and 2015–16 audit, but this appears to be a figurative description – there is no digital dashboard of the type implemented by the Queensland government associated with the audit.

In response to Intermedium’s query about the nature of the Dashboard, a VAGO spokesperson said that the office was still determining the template format that the audit report would take.

Victoria’s ICT project overruns are cited in VAGO’s Annual Plan 2014–15  as a catalyst for the new audit.

“Successive audit reports by our office have identified deficits in the planning and implementation approaches used for major ICT initiatives, with projects often incurring substantial delays and cost overruns. Given the increasing reliance by government on ICT to manage and deliver services, ICT projects require close monitoring to support their success. This audit will occur on an annual basis, targeting ICT projects of significant risk and materiality,” The Annual Plan states.

Victoria’s underperforming ICT projects include VicRoads Registration and Licensing System (RandL) and Victoria Police’s Law Enforcement Assistance Program (LEAP) upgrade, which are both on hold.  

The June 2014 Impact of Increased Scrutiny of High Value High Risk Projects found that RandL would cost 85 per cent more than the approved budget of $158 million to be completed.

“The management and oversight applied to RandL did not effectively foresee and control risks before they materialised to significantly delay the project and increase the estimated cost of delivery. VicRoads has proposed additional expenditure of up to $135 million more than the approved budget of $158 million to finish it,” according to the Auditor-General.

Moves to replace LEAP, a mainframe based ‘green screen’ system in place since 1993, have been beset with problems and poor cost estimation. LEAP suffered one failed replacement attempt in 2011 which cost around $30 million, according to a report by the State Services Authority.

The Auditor General’s Annual Plan 2014–15 identified the audit’s objective: “To examine the timeliness, cost and delivery performance, as well as benefits realisation, of a selection of significant information and communications technology (ICT) projects across the public sector.”

VAGO’s Audit’s in Process  reveals the ‘Digital Dashboard’ audit will also concentrate on “identifying the quantum of spending on ICT investments across the Victorian public sector.”

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