Qld Health payroll problems laid bare

Summary:In a report handed down to Queensland State Parliament by the auditor-general, Queensland Health's problematic payroll system was found to be untested in several key stages of development.

In a report handed down to Queensland State Parliament by the auditor-general, Queensland Health's problematic payroll system was found to be untested in several key stages of development.

According to the report, the new payroll system implemented in March missed crucial testing phases and those working on the system "had not identified a number of significant implementation risks".

Heart monitor

The Queensland auditor-general identifies the problems in the project's implementation. (Lubbock Heart Hospital image by brykmantra, CC BY-SA 2.0)

"Queensland Health had not determined whether systems, processes and infrastructure were in place for the effective operation of the new system," the report said.

The report found that the project board decided to go live with the system, despite risks being pointed out to it. Among the board's decisions was to change the definition of severity one and severity two defects so the project could pass exit criteria.

During testing, the board decided not to undertake a full parallel pay run test because of the size and complexity of the task. In January, the testing company suggested the roll-out be delayed until a full system and integration test was completed. If that test was not done, the company said the board would have to accept the risk that untested scenarios might not go to plan.

The board chose to accept that risk over delaying the roll-out, the report said.

The auditor-general also highlighted the lack of a clear organisational structure within the project team, which led to confusion over the roles and responsibilities of various parties.

The report called for the simplification of award structures to effectively pay the 78,000 members of staff. Queensland Health employees work under 13 separate award structures set out by five different industrial agreements in place across the employee base.

The report also recommended an overhaul of the payroll process with greater system testing, reporting and governance measures.

Problems with the new SAP-based payroll system started after the implementation in March. The system has been failing to pay Queensland Health employees correctly, leaving them out of pocket.

The state government recently imported two payroll system experts from Canada to dissect the disaster, at a cost to taxpayers of almost $350,000.

Meanwhile, Queensland Health is refusing to comment on reports that two senior Queensland Health bureaucrats have been sacked over the payroll bungle.

Deputy director general Michael Kalimnios and corporate services executive director Adrian Shea received notices of contract termination on Monday night, the Courier Mail has reported.

The spokespeople for Health Minister Paul Lucas and Queensland Health refused to comment.

Topics: Government, Government : AU, SAP

About

A fresh recruit onto the tech journalism battlefield, Luke Hopewell is eager to see some action. After a tour of duty in the belly of the Telstra beast, he is keen to report big stories on the enterprise beat. Drawing on past experience in radio, print and magazine, he plans to ask all the tough questions you want answered.

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