The Queensland Government is under fire from the Liberal-National Party opposition this morning over the IDES email system, after a leak emerged claiming that the service is costing $23,000 per user, forcing a counter-offensive from Queensland ICT minister, Simon Finn.
The Identity, Directory and Email Services (IDES) program was announced in 2008 by the Labor Government and would see 80,000 email accounts migrated onto the Microsoft Exchange 2007 platform with savings projected at $123 million over a decade if all went to plan.
The Courier Mail aired a story this morning that accused the state Labor government of spending $46 million on the system that only had 2000 users currently active. The paper boiled down the statistic and heralded that the system was costing the Queensland taxpayer $23,000 per user, a figure that the shadow ICT minister, Ros Bates, leapt on.
"The Bligh Government's pattern of monumental waste continues. The $23,000 cost per user is the price of a family car.
"This is the same sort of waste that occurred with the Health payroll debacle where Queensland Health fundamentally declared themselves exempt from good project governance, project management disciplines and pragmatic business process reform," Bates said in a statement this morning.
The government immediately jumped on the defensive, however, describing the report as a beat-up.
"The report today is just wrong. There are currently over 2000 users migrated to IDES, and this number is increasing every week — in fact, 53,000 users will have migrated by the end of 2013," said Finn.
"This project is progressing on budget and within scope — by any objective measure it is a success," he added.
Figures aren't on Finn's side, however; the Queensland auditor-general tabled a report in June that said the IDES system is set to miss key delivery dates. The auditor-general's report said that by the end of 2012, only 20,000 of the planned 81,000 users would have migrated to the new platform.
The report granted the government a certain amount of leeway, though, as disastrous events like the Queensland Floods had forced the government to re-evaluate its project spending, which Finn was quick to re-iterate today.
"This year's natural disasters caused all departmental expenditure to be reviewed and re-prioritised. Although this project is behind time for this year, it is on budget and on track," Finn assured, adding that the opposition often criticises the government for rushing technology projects and is now being criticised for "taking its time".
Chairman of the Outsourcing Council Asia Pacific, Bruce Mills, a vocal opponent of the incumbent government and its ICT practises, today added his voice to the IDES fracas, describing Finn as a "clueless ringmaster".
"Be it a fundamental failure to not maintain a whole-of-government package that underpins every department in the Queensland Government through to one of the most basic functionalities in business, emails systems, it is clear the longer this ICT minister is allowed to continue in the portfolio the longer the circus will continue.
"The Queensland ICT minister is now presiding over the largest collection of whole-of-government stuff-ups in the state's history," Mills said in a statement.