Qld Health aftermath: Govt still seeking to redress overpayments

So far staff have pledged to repay $3.5 million out of some $120 million worth of overpayments

Queensland Health staff have committed to handing back overpayments worth $3.5 million, the state government announced this morning.

The overpayments are a product of the Queensland Health payroll system debacle. In total 2500 Queensland Health staff members have signed up to repay money, according to Queensland's health minister, Lawrence Springborg.

"I hope to see the number of Queensland Health staff using the new online repayment system continue to rise so we can all put Labor’s payroll debacle behind us," Springborg said.

"There’s absolutely no doubt we still have a long way to go, but this is a great result and I would like to thank all of those who are making use of the new online repayment system," the minister said.

Overpayments attributed to the system, implemented by IBM, total $120 million the minister added. In January, the government said pledged repayments had reached $2.25 million.

The failure of the system, which went live in 2010, is expected to cost the state $1.2 billion over eight years.

In the aftermath of an inquiry into the failure of the system, the state's premier, Campbell Newman, vowed that his government would blacklist IBM.

The project to implement the new payroll system for Queensland Health grew out of the state's abandoned shared services project. The system's "failure, attended by enormous cost, damage to government and impact on workforce, may be the most spectacular example of all the unsuccessful attempts to impose a uniform solution on a highly complicated and individualised agency," states the report of the commission of inquiry into the system.

The commission was chaired by Richard Chesterman, who opened the inquiry on 1 February last year. His report was handed to the government in July.

"On 14 March 2010 after ten aborted attempts to deliver the new payroll system, it 'went live'. It was a catastrophic failure as all Queenslanders know," the report states.

"The system did not perform adequately with terrible consequences for the employees of QH and equally serious financial consequences for the State. After many months of anguished activity during which employees of QH endured hardship and uncertainty, a functioning payroll system was developed, but it is very costly. It required about 1,000 employees to process data in order to deliver fortnightly pays. It is estimated that it will cost about $1.2B over the next eight years

"The replacement of the QH payroll system must take a place in the front rank of failures in public administration in this country. It may be the worst."

In the wake of the disaster, the state introduced a new dashboard system designed to give better visibility of how ICT projects are tracking. The government also introduced new requirements for ministers to sign-off on large IT investments.