IT minister decries NT's own 'Qld Health payroll' fiasco

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IT minister decries NT's own 'Qld Health payroll' fiasco
Northern Territory minister for corporate and information services David Tollner
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Just 11 percent fit for purpose

Although the asset management system went live in April 2012, external auditors have rated only 11 percent of it as fit for purpose.

The ramifications of these shortcomings can been seen right across government, Tollner said. Getting accurate and appropriate information out of the system was “a bit like extracting teeth”.

“Applying the correct accounting treatment to assets and getting reliable financial data out of AMS and into [the government accounting system] is a daily challenge for the hardworking public servants who have to use the system on a day to day basis," he said.

“Data quality remains a huge problem. Developing a data migration strategy to transfer data from the nine old ‘legacy’ systems to the new AMS was not done properly during the development of the system."

The system's functionality is also causing a headache for the Department of Housing, which has lost a direct portal formerly used by construction contractors to log their work, and is now forced to employ temporary staff to manually enter contractor data.

Where to from here?

The Northern Territory government is having second thoughts about whether it wants to keep the asset management system at all.

“To put it bluntly, we are driving a Rolls Royce and even if we get it working properly it is still a Rolls Royce,” said Tollner.

“We need to ask ourselves the fundamental question about whether this is sustainable over the long haul."

This question is the object of an internal investigation currently underway to assess what options remain available to the Territory. The review team is due to report back early in 2014.

The saga seems to have drawn the first formal ICT policy announcement out of the Liberal state government, after it halted work on the whole-of-government ICT strategy being put together by Labor prior to the election.

As a direct response to the asset management saga, the government is putting together an ICT governance framework to strengthen oversight of technology investments and to hopefully improve project management.

The new scheme is due to be put before cabinet in the new year.

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