A dashboard to track Victorian government IT projects with a combined value of $1.85 billion still can’t report in anywhere close to real time, despite major efforts to improve disclosures, the state's auditor-general has found.
Quietly launched in early 2016 by the the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC), the IT dashboard is supposed to provide a whole of government view of all IT projects worth more than $1 million.
The dashboard was introduced as a result of a previous audit in 2015 that found government agencies did not have sufficient processes to report tech spending.
DPC went live with a new dashboard system in March 2018, which offers better functionality than an initial tool.
The latest review released today found that things have improved substantially overall on the reporting front, but questions how useful the dashboard is given that visibility of projects still lags by at least three months.
“We observed that most of the agencies in this audit have limited capability to provide updates in real time or more frequently than quarterly, due to internal resource and system constraints,” the auditor said.
“This data lag means that the ICT Dashboard has limited utility as a management support tool.
"For many fast-moving ICT projects, a three-month data delay can mean that what is publicly reported does not reflect what is actually currently happening with the project.”
Those delays are a worry for technology leaders and policymakers alike because they go to the heart of how the government monitors project health.
The auditor also questioned the level of accuracy of the dashboard based on sampling of inputs it conducted.
“The information on the ICT Dashboard is 'complete' in terms of reporting agencies entering relevant and coherent data in mandatory fields for the projects that they have disclosed,” the auditor said.
However it cautioned that it was “not able to give assurance on the overall completeness, accuracy or integrity of the data on the dashboard” because of “a number of data errors for the projects we reviewed”.
There were also projects not reported by agencies that were reviewed, the auditor said.
And of those disclosed, the auditor observed “that nearly one-third of all projects reported on the ICT Dashboard were disclosed later than they should have been”.
Agencies and departments reviewed in the audit included Premier and Cabinet, Treasury and Finance, Health and Human Services, Melbourne Water and Public Transport Victoria.