Implementation. Failed.

The Auditor General of the Australian state of Victoria has recently released a very interesting snapshot of that state’s ICT projects progress and approach.

You know you are in for an interesting ride when this is the opening sentence of the report:

The Victorian public sector does not have a good track record with information and communications technology (ICT) projects. 

The audit examined whether Victorian public sector agencies and entities are appropriately planning, managing and implementing selected ICT projects in terms of time, cost, benefits realisation and governance.

The report found that the audited organisations

are currently not in a position to assure Parliament and the Victorian community that their ICT investments have resulted in sufficient public value to justify the significant expenditure of taxpayers’ money.

The audited entities failed in demonstrating the benefit of the projects:

Currently agencies and entities are not only unable to demonstrate the achievement of expected benefits from ICT investments, they are also, in general, unable to comprehensively report actual ICT expenditure, or the status of projects.

The audited entities seemed incapable of providing information that a reasonable person would expect to exist:

The difficulty many agencies had in providing basic information raises concerns about the current level of scrutiny they apply to the status and performance of ICT projects as part of their governance processes. Had agencies been properly monitoring their investments, the information sought for this audit would have been readily available.

And the audit noted that past issues raised had not been rectified:

This audit also confirms that weaknesses previously reported on by VAGO in ICT project planning and delivery continue unabated.

Interestingly the Auditor General noted:

It seems incongruous that there are financial reporting directions requiring agencies to report on their consultancy and government advertising spend and yet there is none for ICT, which costs government significantly more.

And most worrying:

I am also particularly disturbed that the certified and attested information submitted by agencies and entities for this report is, in some instances, clearly incomplete and inaccurate. It should not be my responsibility as Auditor-General to seek basic information from 417 agencies and entities on their ICT spend and projects. But because the central agencies tasked to provide effective leadership have not taken on this responsibility, and particularly because no public value has been shown for significant ICT investments, I have come in to seek accountability.

This is an important report to remind all those that are entrusted with ICT projects that delivered well they can and should improve the operations into which they have been submitted.

Done poorly stakeholders are left in a corporate ravine worst than had the ICT not been commenced. 


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