The litany of end user complaints that have dogged a Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) system upgrade will finally face the harsh light of a formal investigation.
The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has announced an audit of IT systems at the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations including the beleaguered EA3000 Job Network application.
Senior director of the ANAO's performance audit services group David Rowlands said the audit will take about 11 months to complete before it is tabled in Parliament in late 2004.
Rowlands said an audit of DEWR's IT, specifically the EA3000 will provide a critical analysis of the system but admits it may be too large for a single audit.
As a result the investigation could involve two audits and Rowland said it will be tackled in "chewable chunks".
He said a wide spectrum of evidence will be sought to establish the efficiency and effectiveness of the new system including "what the perceived architecture and design problems are alleged to be".
Developed by the DEWR as part of the employment services contract (ESC) transition from ESC2 to ESC3, the EA3000 went live on July 1. The application came under fire from users who were required to undertake multimillion dollar IT-compliance upgrades.
Users' complaints included being forced to spend millions on the upgrade to comply, architecture and design problems and slow user-response times.
Rowlands said the audit will also example the DEWR's process of assessment and job seeker referrals from Centrelink.
He said the Auditor General also received a request from the Shadow Minister for Employment Services and Training Anthony Albanese to examine the ESC3 implementation and tender process.
A DEWR portfolio document said IT systems will be assessed to determine how they contribute to employment program outcomes and whether the systems meet quality and service delivery standards as well as data management and IT risk.
DEWR employment systems general manager Anthony Parsons was unavailable for comment but a departmental spokesman said EA3000 was completing 3.8 million transactions a day so the DEWR certainly was unconcerned about the audit.
While DEWR claims $20 million was allocated to cover the cost of the new system, Albanese estimates the government has spent closer to $70 million.
"The ultimate losers from a dysfunctional job network will be the unemployed," Albanese said.