IBM confirms inside talks in Qld Health bungle

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IBM confirms inside talks in Qld Health bungle

Inquiry seeks answers on potential advantage.

An IBM executive has backed a former staffer who gained inside knowledge of an IT project during contract negotiations between the tech giant and the Queensland Government.

The inquiry into the Queensland Health bungle, expected to cost the state $1.25 billion to fix, is examining the adequacy and integrity of the procurement process of the IT project.

The Queensland Health Payroll Inquiry today heard the inside knowledge of an IBM staffer contracted to the Queensland Government "benefited" both IBM and the state government.

Jason Cameron, a former IBM executive who had been seconded to the state government, has been accused of helping to deliver IBM an advantage in contract negotiations between the two. 

The inquiry heard Cameron frequently communicated with Damon Atzeni, a member of the government's contract evaluation team that eventually selected IBM.

“His (Cameron’s) knowledge of the agency not only helped us but also helped Queensland Health,” IBM’s Queensland public sector lead Lochlan Bloomfield told the inquiry today.

“They’re better off engaging with a vendor who understands their business and that’s what we sought to do,” Bloomfield testified.

The inquiry was previously told of an email sent by Atzeni to Cameron detailing Queensland Health’s IT needs and marked “For Your Eyes Only”.

Cameron said he could not remember opening the document.

IBM's Bloomfield said he had met with the procurement officer responsible for the project, Terry Burns, but did not see any difficulty in doing so.

“I fully expected he was having like discussions with other IT providers and consultants,” he wrote.

However, Bloomfield noted that an Accenture executive questioned for the inquiry said he had no private discussions with Burns to the effect of the discussion Bloomfield had.

Bloomfield said he had sought to arrange high-level meetings between IBM and senior government figures, however Burns told him in an email that time was limited on the project and there was too much going on for “protocol meetings”.

The inquiry continues.

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