Victoria’s corruption watchdog has announced a dedicated inquiry into the state Department of Education’s failed Ultranet student portal implementation, following allegations of “serious corruption” within the organisation.
The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) will begin hearings into the $180 million IT project in February 2016 off the back of Operation Ord, which touched on some suspect dealings in the procurement phase of Ultranet.
IBAC will probe relationships between executives of the Department of Education and the consortium selected to deliver the project - CSG (since acquired by NEC) and Oracle.
The corruption watchdog said it will investigate any “familial relationship” or “other personal or business relationship” between education officials and tenderers that were awarded work during the Ultranet project.
It will also look into whether any officials received gifts or benefits linked to their role in the contract selection process, and whether any sensitive information was leaked out of the department during the tendering stage.
Fairfax aired claims late last year that senior department staff had bought shares in CSG both before and after its successful bid for the contract was announced, and took jobs with the IT company after their employment at Education finished up.
The department has since been accused of fostering a culture of poor procurement practices and favours for mates.
The Ultranet project, which aimed to build a state-wide student management portal, started out with a budget of $60.5 million but ended up costing the state somewhere in the vicinity of $180 million.
Public examinations will be conducted by IBAC Commissioner Stephen O’Bryan QC.