The Queensland Government has accepted all four recommendations of the commission of inquiry into the failed Queensland Health payroll replacement and is already “well on track” to see them implemented.
One of those recommendations calls upon the state to immediately commence planning for the replacement of the $1.2 billion IBM-built system, itself a replacement for the LATTICE system the Department had previously relied upon.
The report of the inquiry, lead by Richard Chesterman, found “the current QH payroll system will require an upgrade in about a year and replacement within 5 years”.
This means that work will take place alongside the remediation of the current system, which has been funded out to 2016-17.
Minister for Science, IT, Innovation and the Arts (DSITIA) Ian Walker confirmed to parliament this morning that a Queensland Health payroll planning group would be established, chaired by the Queensland Health Director-General, to begin this process.
The group will also feature representatives of Mater Misericordiae Health Services, whose successful payroll replacement was singled out by the commission of inquiry as a model that Queensland Health would do well to follow.
Other Queensland Government agencies have been given until the end of October to submit risk assessment and succession plans for any legacy systems they are currently running, if they haven’t already done so.
The Chesterman report found that far from being an exceptional case, the hurried last-minute approach to replacing Health’s LATTICE payroll system could be repeated in the cases of ageing and unsupported systems right across the state.
It cited the ICT Audit’s revelation that 40 per cent of the Queensland Government’s significant applications are either past their due date for replacement, or will be within the next two years, but for more than 50 percent, no consideration had been given a replacement process.
Inside DSITIA work has already begun work to list and document the lessons learnt during the payroll saga. It aims to release a report to agencies by 15 September to inform their IT planning.
The government also hopes that a new project approval framework, introduced by the whole-of-government ICT Strategy in July, will plug some of the accountability gaps that allowed the Health project to go off the rails. New requirements include ministerial sign-off for high-risk projects and gateway reviews designed to identify and halt troubled implementations early.
These accountability measures pre-empted the third recommendation of the report, but don’t fully address Chesterman’s less formal suggestion that specialist project managers be appointed to every large IT procurement or implementation.
More details of the government’s strategy for reducing its ICT risk profile will be included in an upcoming ICT Action plan, due for release before the end of the month.