TechOne system would have wrongly billed ratepayers: BCC

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TechOne system would have wrongly billed ratepayers: BCC

Claims platform was still in development.

The core IT system that was to be delivered to Brisbane City Council by local software vendor TechnologyOne was unable to handle the council's requirements for rate notices and would have likely overcharged residents, the council has claimed.

Brisbane City Council last month decided to terminate the contract and sue TechnologyOne for its role in the bungled local government systems project.

The council had cited "persistent and ongoing" contract breaches, "significant and unacceptable delays", and a "complete loss of faith" in TechOne's ability to successfully complete the program.

At a council meeting earlier this month, lord mayor Graham Quirk offered detailed insight into why the council had 'lost faith' in the vendor.

He said as the project - which would have replaced 13 separate IT systems with the single TechnologyOne council operations platform - progressed it became clear that the proposed solution would not be able to meet a key requirement.

"Council issues almost half a million rates notices quarterly, and this cycle requires council to have high levels of automation, validation and control so that it can issue rate notices for the right amount, for the right customer, at the right time," Quirk said.

"From what we have seen, the TechnologyOne system cannot meet this fundamental requirement. For example, TechnologyOne has not satisfied council that its system will apply council’s rate capping framework which requires caps to be applied quarterly. Failure to apply council’s rate capping framework could result in residents being overcharged.

"Ultimately, the TechnologyOne system doesn’t give council confidence that the right person will be billed the right amount at the right time without significant manual intervention."

Quirk said TechnologyOne had failed to make available a working prototype or deliver a base product as required under the contract.

He denied claims by TechOne founder Adrian Di Marco that it was the council's own failings to manage the project that led to the delays and overspend.

"We gave this company the opportunity to reform the contract, and met with their representatives on multiple occasions in a bid to assist the company and to get the project back on track," Quirk told the meeting.

"Based on what we have seen of the TechnologyOne system, this is a product which is still very much in development. After initially promising the product would be operational by March 2017, TechnologyOne requested several extensions for the go-live date, with the most recent advice that it won’t occur until January 2019.

"So this continual slippage is just unacceptable to council, and we just lack confidence that it is going anywhere. We never expected this to be easy, but we were assured by TechnologyOne that it would be done."

TechOne has disputed the mayor's comments and written to Brisbane councillors to highlight what it considers to be inaccuracies.

Both parties are suing each other for breach of contract and are seeking $50 million in damages.

The legal action brings to an end seven months of a public blame game that kicked off in January when Quirk put the supplier "on notice".

Both parties have refused to take responsibility for the problems

"BCC’s behaviour has been disingenuous and unprofessional. BCC had made it clear through both its actions and its statements that it did not want to complete this project, and was endeavouring to engineer a termination of the contract for breach," TechOne founder Di Marco said last month.

"This charade has now come to an end, but unfortunately this now exposes the ratepayers of Brisbane to a $50+million damages claim for wrongful termination by BCC."

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