Fines Victoria's IT woes force $21m write-down

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Fines Victoria's IT woes force $21m write-down

Auditor says system faults to blame.

Victoria’s Department of Justice and Community Safety has been forced to write down almost half the cost of its troubled new fines IT system, the state’s auditor-general has revealed.

Ongoing problems with the centralised fine system, most recently around merging data from the court fines system, has also seen the department spend millions more developing workarounds.

In an annual audit of the government’s finances last week, the auditor cited the issues for a $21 million write-down against the infringements enforcement and warrants (VIEW) system last year.

“During 2018-19, DJCS wrote down $20.8 million of the $45.2 million spent because aspects of the system were not working,” the audit [pdf] states.

Issues with VIEW date back to December 2017, when the government decided to set-live a partially operational version of the system – developed by Civica at a cost of $103 million – and add functionality iteratively.

According to the state’s Ombudsman, this decision – which was made despite the existence of a go-live extension – immediately “led to a significant rise in activity and resulting processing backlogs”.

Since then the number of complaints regarding Fines Victoria has soared by 74 percent, with the Ombudsman receiving 605 complaints about the agency during 2018.

The auditor-general cites multiple issues with the system identified last year, the majority of which it said “remained unresolved” as at the end of June 2019.

These issues include a broken interface with Court Services Victoria, control weaknesses and a “significant backlog in processing infringements”.

“This meant that the newly formed DJCS had to develop a workaround to ensure that the financial statements were not materially misstated,” the auditor said.

“Business functionality and system defects have significantly delayed the delivery of the system and a revised delivery date is yet to be determined.”

The $21 million write down bares some resemblance to the department failed first attempt to replace the legacy infringement and warrants system, which resulted in a $60 million write-off.

The government has provided an additional $8.1 million to the department to develop workarounds and assist with delivery.

Most recently, issues around merging the court fines system into VIEW have hampered the government’s ability to collect up to $700 million in revenue from outstanding fines.

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