An upgrade of the Victorian Parliament's computer system spiralled out by more than $1.6 million, due to poor management and a lack of skills or experience in the IT unit, an auditor general's report has found.
The report - on the introduction of the Parlynet 2002 Project by Auditor-General Wayne Cameron - found that the system was riddled with problems which IT staff 'struggled to resolve'.
The $3.46 million Parlynet project, which introduced a 'significantly different IT environment 'from the one that users were familiar with, was rolled out in the parliamentary precinct and 132 electorate offices across the state during November 2002.
Users immediately reported problems, the report said. The report found users 'lacked the skills necessary to use the system effectively'. The problems caused the cost of the upgrade to blow out to $5.12 million.
There were problems with log-on times, delays in accessing electronic files, and the need to improve some aspects of the system's security, the report said.
In addition, parliament's IT staff were under-trained and inexperienced in the changed operating environment and struggled to resolve problems on a timely basis.
According to the report, many aspects of best practice project governance and project management - which can ensure the success of government IT projects -- were not addressed during the Parlynet 2002 project. The report said that the 'scope of the project was not clearly defined and the steering committee did not constrain the scope'.
Aside from the poor project management issues, the report stated the unsatisfactory outcome of the Parlynet 2002 project was also due to wider issues related to administrative management. As a result, the responsibilities for the upgrade were unclear and the Joint Services Department lacked policies to govern its IT and other functions.
According to the report, Victorian Parliament's IT manager left the organisation in June 2002, leaving the position vacant until a new IT manager arrived in August of that year.
'During that period, significant decisions about the system requirements and the project were made, including selection of the contractor, the choice of the hardware to be used and finalisation of the detailed technical definition of the system,' the report stated. The contractor was released from the contract before the reported problems were resolved.
'Parlynet 2002 was undertaken without sufficient understanding of what was involved, planning, or consideration of the resources required,' the report said. 'There was no schedule or plan for the project as a whole and the scope of the work could reasonable have been expected to be managed as five or six separate projects spread over two to three years.'
It also said there was no clear plan to identify how to resolve remaining problems. 'We estimate the cost of the Parlynet 2002 Project exceeded available funds by $1.664 million,' the report found.