Two of Queensland's largest government departments have spent more than $70 million on legacy IT replacements, but still have nothing to show for it.
Emergency services officers still rely on an archaic LATTICE payroll system, and Queensland Health is limping along with 19-year-old accounting software, many years after both departments committed to high-cost replacement projects.
The state's acting auditor-general, Anthony Close, has shone a light on the stubborn technology in his annual review of agency finances [pdf].
Queensland Health’s SAP environment is still running the department’s finances despite being out of vendor support for a decade.
Close said the department - already notorious for its $1.2 billion payroll disaster- was handed a new $105 million allocation to upgrade the solution to a newer SAP instance this year, after cancelling its last attempt $36 million in.
In the meantime, Health staff within the central department and all 16 hospital and health services continue to struggle with serious performance and stability issues as they patiently wait for the upgrade, which is likely to take another three years.
The audit office has been assured“the project is progressing”.
Health insisted it will “evaluate a system prototype and plan the implementation, ensuring alignment to Queensland government chief information officer information and communication technology investment governance”.
Meanwhile, the emergency services portfolio is still using LATTICE payroll some six years and $35 million after committing to a replacement.
What was once touted as a business process outsourcing scheme was delayed by a policy reversal by the incoming Labor government in early 2015, which decided it wanted to keep the functions inside government.
The Public Safety Business Agency, which is charged with rolling out the payroll replacement across the emergency services portfolio, received sign-off from the relevant ministers and cabinet to go ahead with a pared-down scope for the late-running $101 million project in March 2016.
According to the state’s IT project dashboard, the revised program is now due to be complete in September 2018.
“Despite having now spent over $70 million collectively on replacement projects since 2010, the departments still rely on these systems,” the auditor said in his 2015-16 review of state agencies.
“Both LATTICE and the Department of Health's accounting system have been out of information technology vendor support for a number of years. This means there are no upgrades, fixes, or support available for these systems."