Qld to move to "ICT as a service"

 
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CITEC to be shelved, assets sold off.

The Queensland Government will adopt all of the ICT recommendations handed down in an external audit which offers a scathing assessment of the state’s ICT portfolio.

The State's new IT minister today revealed to iTnews that some of these proposals were to be taken to Cabinet within the next two months.

Former national Treasurer Peter Costello was tasked with leading the Commission of Audit and its review into the Queensland Government’s financial position in March last year.

The Commission was asked to make recommendations on how to strengthen the Queensland economy, improve the state’s financial position and ensure value for money in the delivery of services. 

The Commission released its final report earlier this week. It made six specific ICT recommendations. All have been accepted by the government:

  • Adopt an ‘ICT as a service’ strategy and source ICT services, especially commoditised services, from private providers;
  • Utilise as appropriate cloud based computing and other emerging technologies;
  • Discontinue the role of CITEC as a centralised provider of ICT services within government;
  • Discontinue the Government's role as an owner and manager of significant ICT assets and systems, with required ICT services to be purchased under contractual arrangements with private providers;
  • Implement best practice governance arrangements for the recommended new 'ICT as a service' strategy to ensure that value for money is achieved from this strategy; and
  • Have the Chief Information Office work with agencies to re-focus their ICT resources on strategic issues.

The Commission also recommended the government rationalise and consolidate 28 systems used to track and manage grant systems. At present these systems range from online lodgement systems to manual entry Excel spreadsheets shared between agencies. 

‘Unsustainable, fragmented, risky and wasteful’

The report heavily criticised the performance of ICT in the Queensland Government and said the portfolio was becoming unsustainable.

“It is a fragmented and complex collection of a wide variety of software and technology,” the report stated. “A large proportion of the portfolio is in need of replacement or upgrade.”

The report found complexity of IT systems with duplication and waste, a number of ‘significant IT systems at serious risk’, a high proportion of legacy systems that would cost significant sums to replace and poor governance and management of large whole-of-government ICT projects.

The state’s ICT assets are estimated to be worth around $4.5 billion, made up of $3 billion in applications and $1.5 billion in technology assets. The Queensland Government spends around $1.6 billion a year on ICT.

According to the state’s Chief Information Office (QGCIO), 90 percent of the IT portfolio will require replacing within five years, at a cost of around $7.4 billion. The state government has 1730 applications, 52 percent of which are no longer supported. 

The Queensland Government’s new IT minister Ian Walker told iTnews there was no doubt the previous state government had left IT in Queensland in “a heck of a mess”.

The report highlighted Queensland Health’s bungled payroll system update as an example of one large ICT project which failed to deliver on time or budget.

“The audit shows more than half of our systems can be considered legacy systems. They’re unstable, they’re fragile and about 10 percent require urgent replacement,” Walker said.

“I’m very well aware of the urgency of the matter. And I’m also well aware of how things can go wrong, Queensland Health is an example of that, where rushing and not taking things carefully cost the taxpayer. My job is to balance the urgency and the protection of the taxpayer.”

Read on to learn of Walker's immediate priorities...

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