Victoria’s anti-corruption watchdog has served up dramatic evidence that a group of bidders was conducting secret correspondence with the state Department of Education executive in charge of the failed Ultranet rollout, in breach of strict probity rules.
IBAC is investigating a cohort of former employees of the Glen Waverley Secondary College and their associates, who went on to maintain close relations on both the government and supplier sides of the doomed Ultranet project.
In day two of public hearings into the saga, IBAC zeroed in on the aborted first tender to find a systems integrator to roll out the state-wide intranet platform.
Investigators uncovered a 2008 email addressed to the daughter of the Education deputy secretary in charge of the Ultranet rollout, Darrell Fraser, asking whether she can pass documents on to her father.
The email, IBAC claims, was sent from an account specifically set up to ferry messages between members of a company called Cinglevue - allegedly set up to help WA systems integrator ASG and Oracle bid for the deal - and Department of Education officials.
The author of the message - purportedly from ‘growlerbarman’ - is suspected to be then-Oracle employee and CingleVue director Greg Martin. It was forwarded between fellow CingleVue directors Greg Tolefe and Frank Aloisio.
Aloisio had formerly worked as a teacher under Fraser when the latter was principal at GWSC.
Attached to the message was a file called ‘Darrell.doc’ which outlined a strategy for moving forward with the tender.
It was sent during a strict non-communication period where departmental officials tied to the tender were prohibited from corresponding with bidders to protect the integrity of the evaluation process.
Quizzed about the email in Melbourne yesterday afternoon, Aloisio conceded it “was not good form”.
Counsel assisting IBAC, Ian Hill, put it to Alosio that “what has clearly been done is that documents that clearly shouldn’t have been seen by anyone had been forwarded in a way that keeps the forwarding of the documents secret”.
“Clearly the tender process was not being obeyed by no less than a deputy secretary who was on the Ultranet board,” he said.
‘Best restaurant in town’
IBAC also produced evidence that Fraser and Aloisio crossed paths during a lavish 2006 trip to New York City funded by Ultranet software provider Oracle, where Fraser and a trio of Harvard academics were to show off the Australian-developed platform to the rest of the global company.
Darrell allegedly told Aloisio and Martin (who both then worked for Oracle) that he had promised the professors “we will be staying at a 5 star hotel, limo transfers, and that they can expect to have the time of their lives in New York - a Broadway show and a private showing at the Met prior to a dinner at the best restaurant in town”.
Aloisio admitted he did recall seeing Jersey Boys the musical as part of the trip, and accepted he had probably paid for Fraser and his colleagues' accommodation after IBAC produced an invoice to Oracle for $4593 in hotel fees for the officials.
The hearings continue.