A former IBM employee, hired as a contractor to and later engaged directly by Queensland Government shared services provider CorpTech, has been accused of stepping outside the scope of his initial appointment and acting as a “free agent” to drive a preconceived view, an inquiry into the State's payroll scandal has heard.
The Queensland Health Payroll System Commission of Inquiry is analysing the contractual arrangements between the State of Queensland and IBM Australia, and the adequacy and integrity of the procurement process.
The bungled project is expected to cost the state $1.25 billion between now and 2017, according to an audit by KPMG.
Yesterday the inquiry heard Terry Burns, who was eventually understood to be the procurement officer managing the appointment of a prime contractor to Queensland Treasury, was alleged to have sought solutions from suppliers during his first week as a subcontractor working for Treasury.
Burns was hired by Mark Nicholls, the managing director of management consulting firm Information Professionals as part of a five-week contract to review CorpTech’s shared services implementation project.
Nicholls yesterday alleged Burns seemed to be directing people at CorpTech, and was engaging with suppliers. In reality, he was meant to be conducting a review of the government’s priorities and constraints.
Asked about an email sent by an IBM executive to Burns, Nicholls said it was clear from the email there was a “prescribed view about the way forward for the project”.
“Even if it was appropriate to talk to a vendor and particularly an account manager on the vendor, there is no way in which a properly considered view could be formed about what that – what instructions were provided to that vendor at that stage, unless there was a pre-conceived view, I would suggest,” Nicholls told the inquiry.
“I have no idea how he could come up with a view about what a supplier could do within the first week of an engagement,” Nicholls testified.
Nicholls said he later went on to raise concerns about Burns with phone calls and a letter to executives within CorpTech. He received no response, and later heard Burns had been engaged directly by Queensland Treasury.
The inquiry continues.