When the Coalition Government took power in Queensland in mid-2012, it promised a wide-ranging, $5 million, six-month audit of the State’s IT projects.
The Government’s long-promised response to that audit – which had been scheduled for release in November 2012 – has never been made public.
And with the resignation of Queensland IT Minister Ros Bates today, industry pundits are worried they’ll be kept in the dark for some months yet.
The scope of the review was substantial: some 900 IT projects and 10,000 systems were under scrutiny.
IT industry investment in the State of Queensland stalled in response as they waited to see where the Government would choose to spend its money in response.
In mid-October 2012, industry partners were invited to a series of briefings on the audit results – one to be held behind closed doors, another being a public event. The invitation made clear that the audit was complete and a response prepared:
“Queensland Government and ICT industry partnering will be a critical component to address the outcomes of the Queensland Government ICT audit.
Join us for a unique opportunity to hear about the key findings and their impact on government's engagement with the ICT industry in the future.
Please note this will be the only open industry briefing covering the contents of the audit report in 2012. More focussed industry engagement will be undertaken in 2013.”
But just 48 hours before the briefing, those invited were told not to come.
“Unfortunately, due to unforseen [sic] circumstances, this event is now cancelled,” a hurried correspondence read. “Further communication about the ICT audit will be provided as soon as possible.”
Some 10 weeks on, there are still no answers for Queensland's IT industry.
"More delays!" wrote one senior manager from a major Queensland IT service provider, responding to the news of Bates' resignation on Twitter.
Gavin Keeley, chief technology officer at Queensland-based cloud computing challenger CloudDC said Bates’ resignation “puts a huge question mark” over what was in the audit report.
“There is a fair degree of frustration in the industry community up here,” he told iTnews. “The Queensland Government accounts for a huge proportion of IT spend in the State.
"The pause button has been pressed, everyone is holding their breath. When are the new projects coming in?
“A lot of people in the industry were looking forward to some answers,” he said. “We were hoping we’d get some clarity about 2013 and start planning for staff and budgets. We expected we’d be given a view on how the Government intends to get on with it.
Some in the industry will see benefit in the resignation, should somebody be employed that “wants to get on with the job,” he said.
“I guess it depends on how quickly we get her successor get up to speed,” he said. “We need to have a decent person in the role and get on with it.”
Professor Simon Kaplan, chair of the Queensland Council at ICT lobby group, the AIIA, agreed the "key issue moving forward is that the implementation of the ICT Audit outcomes and recommendations continue uninterrupted."