Qld Health prepares to outsource IT, telecommunications

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Qld Health prepares to outsource IT, telecommunications

Major shift in approach from troubled department.

Queensland Health has revealed plans to open its full ICT service catalogue up to the market, starting with end-user services and telephony.

The department has found itself in the unenviable position of being known for Australia’s most expensive and notorious government IT disaster, the $1.2 billion replacement of its payroll system, which continues to cost the state millions each year.

In response to a Commission of Inquiry into the payroll project, as well as a whole raft of reports mapping the parlous state of Queensland Government ICT, it has decided to overhaul its technology supply in line with state’s contestability agenda, labelled ‘ICT-as-a-service’.

Health chief information officer Ray Brown told attendees at an industry briefing last week the government was serious about reforming its approach to IT management.

“Queensland Health is leading and it must work,” he said.

Internal service provider, the Health Services Information Agency (HSIA), will undergo a transformation from “an ICT service provider” to a “managing agent providing a range of ICT [services] from internal and external providers” according to a market brief issued today.

To kick off the process, HISA will solicit several rounds of short responses from the market as it works through decisions on which service packages are appropriate for outsourcing.

It has started with telephony, seeking informal expressions of interested on the ‘as-a-service’ provision of carriage, infrastructure, paging and messaging systems. It intends that managed voice services currently provided by Telstra and Optus will form part of the consolidated deal.

Brown said the department had struggled with its complex telephony environment and “limited ability to deliver contemporary telephony services”.

Queensland Health currently operates over 90,000 desk-based handsets, 12,000 mobile handsets, nearly 10,000 pagers and 12 different messaging systems.

Second cab off the rank is end-user services, bundled together into a ‘Health Workspace’ package of works that will encompass devices, virtual desktop infrastructure, support for Microsoft Exchange email, eDRMS, collaboration tools and mobile device management, among other services.

The Queensland Health ICT environment is home to 81,000 email accounts, 59,000 computing devices, 100 enterprise desktop applications and 9000 local desktop applications.

Additional service packages will be opened to market responses at a later date.

The Newman government’s contestability agenda is likely to see ICT functions of many more state agencies handed over to the private sector. Over the next two years the public sector IT infrastructure provider CITEC will be dismantled and its assets sold off in a move that is estimated to place a question mark over 430 public service roles.

Queensland Shared Services, which manages ERP systems and processes of behalf of most of the government, will find itself bidding against the open market to keep its clients in the near future.

Competition for the significant Queensland Health deals is also likely to take place in the absence of IT giant IBM, which has been banned from contracting with state agencies for the part it played in the systems integration of the SAP payroll system which caused the health department so much strife.

Premier Campbell Newman has demanded that IBM show evidence it has improved governance and contracting practices, and that it has taken action against staff members adversely named in the Commission of Inquiry, before it can re-enter the state’s $1.6 billion ICT marketplace. 

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