Queensland outsources IT, reviews QGCIO

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Queensland outsources IT, reviews QGCIO

Updated: Final audit report released.

The Queensland Government has ended months of waiting by today tabling its response to last year’s whole-of-government IT audit, confirming its move to outsource IT and reviewing the future of the CIO Office.

The state-wide audit of IT systems was announced in May last year, under then-Queensland IT minister Ros Bates, as part of a plan to highlight wasteful processes and high-risk programs and potentially centralise government procurement.

The five-month audit covered 900 projects and 10,000 systems, excluding the bungled Queensland Health payroll project, which is the subject of a commission of inquiry.

The audit cost $5.2 million and utilised 32 public servants. 

It identified one in six systems as critically vulnerable or fragile, with the Government likely to be forced to pay up to $5 billion over five years to fix the 50 most vulnerable systems.

A Government spokesperson said the cost estimate remained the same, but some systems may not require replacement. 

"The focus will be on replacing with a service rather than undertaking multi-tens of million dollar multi-year software replacement projects," the spokesperson said.

"In each case the most cost effective approach will be taken to address the issues with these vulnerable systems. In some cases, minimal technical upgrades can be undertaken to reduce the risk of continuing to run the systems and extending the life of the system."

A response to the report was expected late last year but was stalled at the minister’s review level, and further set back by the departure of Bates, and subsequent appoint of new minister Ian Walker, early this year.

The Queensland Government tabled the document to Parliament this morning. The audit made 60 recommendations, of which 36 were accepted.

Another 11 were either accepted in principle or partially accepted, and a further 11 were “noted”. The Government rejected two proposals. 

The Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts will become the lead for IT procurement in the new centre-led approach.

The Government also announced the implementation of an IT dashboard, which would be delivered within six months and would display the costs and status of all “significant” government projects, valued at over $1 million.

Among the most significant accepted recommendations, the Government will:

  • Strip Smart Service of its function as the lead for IT procurement and reposition it as a source and manager of IT services to the public; 
  • “Immediately” look to replace current government-hosted payroll systems, and study the options for a move to externally-managed payroll and finance systems; 
  • Move all agencies to cloud-based email; and
  • Remove “less capable” staff for high-risk IT projects, and get independent assurance for such projects.

It has also agreed to:

  • Cancel unused mobile and fixed telephone services, optimise data plans, consolidate telco accounts and increase printer efficiencies
  • Decommission unused systems and exit its Travel Management System
  • Initiate and maintain a program of rigorous application of business continuity planning for all business critical systems,
  • Never modify commercially-provided commodity applications to meet unique business requirements,
  • Conduct basic technical upgrades for high-risk payroll, finance, systems
  • Further analyse the Health finance system replacement
  • Establish an externally-managed desktop arrangement, and 
  • Study the options for a single-government data network for all agencies. 

It said no further IT audits were planned and as such declined to make changes to legislation to allow the Queensland Government Chief Information Office to audit remaining areas of government, including government-owned corporations.

It has created a discussion paper for industry to comment on its IT roadmap. Consultation will close on Tuesday 11 June.

Many of the recommendations in the audit report tabled today were in line with that of the Commission of Audit report, released last month and led by former national Treasurer Peter Costello.

The Queensland Government said it would adopt all of the IT recommendations handed down in that scathing report, which included six specific recommendations:

  • Adopt an ‘ICT as a service’ strategy and source ICT services, especially commoditised services, from private providers
  • Utilise cloud based computing and other emerging technologies as appropriate
  • Discontinue the role of CITEC as a centralised provider of ICT services within government
  • Discontinue the Government's role as an owner and manager of significant ICT assets and systems, with required ICT services to be purchased under contractual arrangements with private providers
  • Implement best practice governance arrangements for the recommended new 'ICT as a service' strategy to ensure that value for money is achieved from this strategy; and
  • Have the Chief Information Office work with agencies to re-focus their ICT resources on strategic issues.

Future of CIO, QGCIO uncertain

The Queensland Government is reviewing the future of its Chief Information Officer position and Office following the removal of former Queensland CIO Peter Grant late last month. 

Upon Grant’s removal, Andrew Garner, Director-General of Queensland’s Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts (DSITIA) said he would relieve Grant in the role while the position was reviewed. 

Last week Garner told staff a new CIO would only be recruited "upon confirmation of the future role of the QGCIO".

The review of the Office includes a review of its positioning as well as the CIO role, a spokesperson said today. She confirmed the CIO role would not remain as it has been but declined to comment further on potential changes.

"The review of this role will include determining appropriate reporting relationships."

"The future role of the QGCIO office will include consideration of what is required to best progress the ICT renewal program for Government.

Update: The article originally stated the Government had removed the CIO role. It has been updated to include the Department's comments. 

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