PwC to review ailing $20m apprentice IT system

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PwC to review ailing $20m apprentice IT system

System remains indefinitely delayed.

PwC has been called in to review the Department of Education and Training’s indefinitely delayed $20 million national apprenticeship management system, after NEC failed to meet the revised November go-live.

The Australian apprenticeship management system (AAMS) was promised to apprentices and training providers back in 2012 as a replacement for the training and youth internet management system (TYIMS), which as far back as June 2013 was described as outdated and buckling under pressure.

The new system will need to be able to process 100 different allowance payments to apprentices and their employers, through 135,000 transactions totalling $105 million each month. It is also required to interface with other federal, state, and territory systems.

The Department of Education and Training (DET) was expected to begin replacing the paper-based processes for registering training contracts and administering payments to apprentices with online forms in July 2016, and thereby deliver $93 million worth of savings to the federal government’s bottom line in 2015-16 and 2016-17.

NEC was chosen to develop the new platform – one it described as “incredibly complex” even before it had started development – in May 2015 after a year-long procurement process.

But once it started work on the new system, NEC advised the project would take “significantly longer than originally envisaged”.

The department then pushed back the rollout of the system to last November – almost a year and a half on from original completion date.

However, DET later cancelled the November go-live and delayed the AAMS for the foreseeable future while it worked with stakeholders "to achieve a solution”.

The department said it would continue to rely on the now 16 year-old apprenticeship management IT system and manual processes until the replacement system was deliverd.

The “worsening overall status” of the AAMS over two reporting periods in the second half of last year saw the Digital Transformation Agency step in to bring the project back under control.

It put this down to “multiple delays due to IT readiness" and the involvement of "multiple stakeholder federal and state governments (ATO, DHS, state and territory training authorities in all jurisdictions, training.gov.au, the Australian business register, Australia Post,” the DTA said at the time.

It was one of 17 projects valued at over $10 million identified in the DTA's digital investment review because of the risk it presented to the federal government.

At the time the DTA said it would undertake a review of its project so far.

Now the department has engaged PwC to independently assess the program through a $1.7 million contract for program assurance services.

An Education spokesperson told iTnews that while the contract is primarily for the implementation of the child care reform program – another high-risk IT project identified by the DTA – it was also being used to “undertake an AAMS project review”.

Activities covered by the contract include “assurance planning, reviews of program risk, program health reviews, stage gate reviews of program readiness to move to the next stage or gate and focus reviews of areas of key risk or concern”, the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said DET and PwC were yet to negotiate a completion date for the review.

There is similarly no new go-live date for the AAMS project, they said.

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