NSW Education LMBR costs almost double to $752 million

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NSW Education LMBR costs almost double to $752 million

Department finally comes clean on figures.

The cost of the NSW Department of Education's beleaguered finance and student systems overhaul will soar to almost double its original budget by the time the project is complete.

The department yesterday quietly slipped out new figures on its learning management and business reform (LMBR) program, revealing the new estimate of its total cost over nine years is $752 million.

At last count the project had already blown out to $579 million, according to the state's audit office [pdf].

It had originally been slated for completion in 2014 with capital expenditure of $386 million. The timeframe has since been pushed out to late 2017 after the department last year opted to split the rollout in two.

NSW Education yesterday said it had now signed the final - undisclosed - contract for the LMBR, allowing it to finally release its full costs.

Capital costs will come in at $470 million, it said, while "essential" operational costs for things like implementation and staff training amount to $282 million.

It claimed the LMBR would deliver more than $100 million worth of benefits per year, from both direct savings and economic and productivity benefits.

Around 426 schools state-wide are currently using the LMBR finance and student management systems, the department said, and it expects that number to grow to 1100 by the end of the year.

NSW Education last year decided to rework the rollout into a staggered approach after schools struggled to resource the system overhaul and software problems hindered its uptake.

The LMBR project was established in 2006 to replace legacy finance, human resources, payroll and student administration systems across the department, TAFEs and 2230 public schools.

TAFEs received the finance software in 2010, followed by 229 pilot schools in 2013. The pilot schools also received the student administration and learning management (SALM) platform in the same year. All TAFEs were shifted onto the HR and payroll systems in 2013, and the SALM system the year after.

But the project has stalled in the last two years due to what NSW auditor Grant Hehir attributed to changing requirements and scope, a "high level" of uncertainty in business cases, governance weakness, and a lack of program and contract management.

Problems with the platform at TAFE NSW have been so severe that the organisation this month announced it was dumping the Tribal student management solution and immediately looking for a replacement

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