Victorian govt IT subject to three-year rolling review

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Victorian govt IT subject to three-year rolling review

‘Digital dashboard’ to step up scrutiny.

The Victorian Auditor General’s Office will step up its scrutiny of state government IT operations by kicking off an ongoing review of agency tech for to take place over the next three years.

The office this week updated its website with details of what it called a “digital dashboard”, which will comprise a series of reports to parliament on the performance of the state’s IT projects.

In his 2014 annual plan, the state's Auditor-General John Doyle flagged that a “greater focus on information systems” would be his priority for the year ahead.

Doyle's long-running criticisms of the state's approach to IT culminated in a 2011 shocking report co-authored with the Victorian Ombudsman which uncovered $1.4 billion in cost overruns stemming from just ten projects.

The now dumped projects included the Victoria Police's LEAP crime database replacement, which was a $50 million write-off, and the $500 million HealthSMART program, which aimed to implement a statewide footprint of certain IT solutions.

“The Victorian public sector does not have a good track record with ICT projects.

"A number of VAGO performance audits and Ombudsman reports over the last decade have shown significant weaknesses in the planning and implementation of ICT projects, which often incur substantial delays and cost overruns.

"The transparency outcome of this audit will potentially make it harder for underperforming projects to go unnoticed, and easier for the government to focus rectification effort on the projects where it is most needed."

VAGO website

The Audit Office stated that the increasing centrality of technology to the government’s day to day operations was the instigator for the IT review, which is unprecedented at the VAGO in terms of its scope and methodology.

The rolling audit will also seek to measure the true extent of IT spending in the state government, rather than relying on agency estimates. In the past, annual IT expenditure has been quoted by state ministers at about $1.5 billion across government.

The Queensland Government instigated its own ICT Audit in 2012, which produced close to 1000 pages of data and metrics that have since informed the state’s technology reform program. The federal government is also undertaking a similar review.

Representatives of the Audit Office told iTnews state legislation preventing them from being able to comment until after the audit is tabled. 

The first instalment of the rolling review is due in the first half of 2015.

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