'Vendor support issues' for Defence HR IT

Summary:A KMPG audit of the Department of Defence's ongoing staff pay scandal has found key IT systems aiding payroll processes were working well but facing difficulties with vendor support.

A KMPG audit of the Department of Defence's ongoing staff pay scandal has found key IT systems aiding payroll processes were working well but facing difficulties with vendor support.

In a report released late yesterday, KPMG partners Nick Baker and Ken Drover wrote that the staff pay processes in Defence were characterised by, among other things, "ageing computer systems, which whilst working well at managing the complexity of Defence's payroll arrangements, were nonetheless facing vendor support issues".

The report recommended Defence develop an overarching remuneration strategy which included IT systems reform.

In the report, KPMG mentions both the PMKeyS system, which it says is responsible among other things, for generating the salary component of remuneration for staff including the Army, and ADFPay, an older system which generates what Defence calls the "allowance" component.

PMKeyS was first rolled out in 2002 and is based on Oracle's PeopleSoft software. Defence had initially planned to integrate the ADFPay functionality into PMKeyS, but the older and more limited system is still operational, with some of the integration between the two systems believed to still be being completed manually by staff.

PMKeyS is believed to be focused on civilian remuneration, with the military broadly being served by ADFPay.

Defence some time ago flagged its intention to replace the HR systems with a wider solution. In December last year, chief information officer Greg Farr told ZDNet.com.au that the department expected to ditch the "far from perfect" HR systems in 2009 in a tender worth around $400 million.

In its report, which largely handed the blame for Defence's pay issues to processes and management decisions rather than the actual IT systems responsible for tracking staff details and remuneration, KPMG noted it had consulted Farr's CIO Group as part of its evaluation.

"The findings of this audit would suggest that disparate processes and incompletely executed procedures more fully explain the implementation difficulties associated with [the Defence pay determination being investigated] and its subsequent remediation, rather than system problems per se," Baker and Drover wrote.

KPMG quotes Army staff as saying there was a lack of administrative control and command governance in formally recording personal competencies within PMKeyS.

Consequently, the auditors recommended Defence implement a control framework project within its HR operations, which would identify those in charge of certain processes and ensure that implementation issues in future were communicated to and acted upon by a single, centralised area of responsibility and accountability.

In general KPMG wrote in a wider sense the change management environment within Defence was well considered and managed in certain areas: "It is not at all broken!," the auditors stated.

However, in some areas it still needed work. "Full testing of ADFPay payroll changes against a 'production-equivalent' test database is not in place in the current environment," the report stated. "There would be instances where such testing would be particularly useful."

In a statement, Defence said it fully supported the recommendations of the report. Oracle declined to comment.

Topics: Oracle

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