NSW Auditor-General slams Transport NSW cost blowouts

The NSW Auditor-General’s office has delivered a stinging review of the state of RailCorp’s IT projects

The NSW Auditor-General’s office has delivered a stinging review of the state of RailCorp’s IT projects, pointing out that eight of the 10 largest projects underway are behind schedule.

In the office’s 2010 Report to Parliament, the auditor-general detailed delays of some 25 months on RailCorp’s Ellipse upgrade, 20 months on a virtual plan room stages two and three, and 24 months each for a Central station emergency warning communications system and a station passenger information rollout system.

The cost for the top 10 projects had also blown out from some $117.5 million to an estimated $158.9 million – up some $41.4 million.

According to the auditor-general, the cost of the Station Passenger Information Rollout Project increased $9.7 million above its original budget as a result of an extension in the scope of the project.

A procurement transformation project had also received a revised forecast final cost of $14.7 million above its original budget due to the realisation that the project was more complex and costly than initially budgeted.

“The Ellipse project was completed in June 2010, 25 months behind schedule, because further work was required to implement the employee self-service module within Ellipse and to ensure it met all RailCorp’s business requirements,” the report reads.

The delay in the Central station project was found to be primarily due to an increased number of audio zones, which also resulted in additional costs of $2.9 million.

“The 20-month delay in the virtual plan room is due to RailCorp being unable to negotiate a contract with the preferred tenderer for seven months,” the report reads. “The remainder of the delay is attributable to a revised project scope.”

The auditor-general also noted the State Transit Authority’s 2009-10 decision to defer works on its ERP project.

“To date the Authority has spent $1.3 million on this project,” the report reads. “The total estimated cost of this project is $8.0 million.

“The reason for the delays is primarily due to the formation of Transport NSW and the fact that agencies are waiting for further direction on the structure and functions of corporate services (including information technology) within transport agencies.”

The auditor-general's comments come as a blow to the department's shared services plans, which it recently accelerated for implementation ahead of the next state elections. Operational IT staff from RailCorp, RTA and other daughter agencies will be moved to the new shared services division from 13 December and will help to assume 11 functions for the 25,100 full time-equivalent staff at Transport NSW.

In October last year, the auditor-general found the NSW Government’s Licensing Project, aimed at centralising software licences, was nine years late and $23 million over budget.

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