Thirty-two Queensland government technology projects expected to cost a total of $161.4 million are not reflected by an online tool intended to promote transparency around major ICT and ICT-enabled initiatives.
Scrutiny by the Queensland Audit Office revealed details of the projects that met the criteria for inclusion on the state government’s ICT Dashboard but are not listed.
However, those criteria, developed by the Queensland Government Chief Information Office, are not mandatory for departments. A report of the QAO investigation said that the projects weren’t listed because the relevant departments had developed their own criteria, had their own interpretation of what a “major ICT project” is, or had suffered a “breakdown in internal processes”.
The QAO report said that some departments consider the $100,000 criteria for listing a project on the dashboard to be too low. One department has set a $1 million threshold for including ICT projects, it said.
The completeness of the dashboard has also suffered because 24 projects, worth an estimated $109 million, at the ‘initiate’ stage are not listed, the audit found. Those projects, which are excluded by QGCIO guidelines, “started more than a year ago or are more than 10 per cent complete”, the QAO said.
The creation of the dashboard came in the wake of the Queensland Health payroll disaster — considered one of Australia’s most notable government IT debacles.
The dashboard was one of the initiatives detailed in a 2013 ICT strategy released by the Queensland government as part of its response to the spectacularly bungled implementation of a new payroll system for QH.
“The status of all major government ICT projects will be published to an online dashboard on a regular basis,” the strategy said. Using the dashboard, “the progress of programs and projects will be made visible to the community through an ICT dashboard that can be accessed by anyone using a web browser of their choice,” the document said.
The QAO report recommended that a number of enhancements be made to the ICT dashboard, including that all departments publish data to the tool consistent with the guidelines produced by the QGCIO.
In Victoria, a similar dashboard-style tool has also recently come under fire. Victoria’s dashboard was launched in March 2016 following a withering report into the state of public sector ICT spending by the state’s auditor-general.
A report released last month by the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office concluded that although the dashboard had improved the transparency of public sector ICT projects, VAGO was “not able to give assurance on the overall completeness, accuracy or integrity of the data on the dashboard”.