The NSW government has narrowly avoided a parliamentary order to release top-level guidance given to Department of Education executives on the progress of the beleaguered LMBR system rollout.
Late last week Labor’s Adam Searle pushed a motion to the upper house calling for the government to hand over monthly reports produced for the Education executives on how the learning management and business reform (LMBR) project is tracking.
The now notorious initiative kicked off in 2006 to replace ageing, green-screen finance and student management systems used in schools with a standardised suite of SAP and Tribal ERP solutions.
State Labor and the Greens have joined forces to call for the release of LMBR executive advice and for the government to deliver transparency to the rollout.
“We need access to these monthly reports to the Department of Education executive about the LMBR if we are going to get to the bottom of what is really happening in this area. The government at every turn has resisted transparency, scrutiny and openness,” Searle said.
“The final cost of implementing the [LMBR] is said to be anywhere up to $1 billion...Access to these documents is vital if we are to shine a light onto this important area of public administration."
Labor successfully passed an order for another round of documents late last year, but says it was not satisfied with what the government produced.
Regardless, the Coalition government managed to beat the latest order in the legislative council by a single vote.
Minister for Ageing John Ajaka insisted the government had been upfront about the costs incurred by LMBR through auditor general’s reports, budget estimates and freedom of information disclosures.
He claimed the latest request would place “considerable resourcing pressures on departmental staff” who are required to find the files in question and redact any commercially sensitive passages.
His colleague and former IT minister Greg Pearce blamed the LMBR woes on a “botched contract entered into by the Labor Party”.
“The government has had to deal with that mess over the past five years," Pearce said.
The final stages of the LMBR rollout to more than 2000 remaining schools is set to take place throughout 2016 and 2017.
At the last formal count, the auditor general [pdf] placed the full cost of the project at $578 million, or $95 million beyond its original budget.