Victoria Police has again put the brakes on its LINK project to replace the Law Enforcement Assistance Program (LEAP) database while it redevelops a business case to take integration issues into account.
LEAP is a criminal history and crime reporting database that has been operating for two decades. The plan was to replace it with a more modern system under the LINK project; however, the project encountered difficulties last year when the police realised that the project was more complex than originally thought.
The police commissioned two reviews of the project, one from KPMG and one from Tibco, at a combined cost of around $450,000, which revealed that although the new system to be implemented under the project offered opportunities, it would be more expensive than originally thought.
Now, Victoria Police has decided to stop the project to consider the business case.
"We really were let down by our original business case," Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe said, explaining that there are close to 200 interfaces with 25 existing applications that need to be dealt with, which hadn't been canvassed by the original business case.
In fact, that business case had only budgeted $2.5 million for interfaces, according to Walshe.
The business case had been carried out in 2005/06 by employees who "no longer work for Victoria police", Walshe said, adding that the KPMG report had implied that the business case had been rushed to fit into the budget cycle.
The chief information officer of Victoria Police at that time was Valda Berzins, who had been the Australia Post CIO before that. In 2008, she left the police in the midst of an investigation of her department, with a later audit report saying that she had a "disregard for proper procurement and contract management".
Police will now develop a business case over the next 12 months to present to the government, saying that current estimates show that the project may need an additional $100 million before it can be completed, and that implementation would take about two years once funds are released. Victorian Police has already spent $45 million on the project.
One of the actions that the team has already taken was to buy software from Niche Technology for $13 million in 2009. Some money has already been paid to Niche, with the rest to be paid when the system is implemented.
Police stressed that there is nothing wrong with this software itself.
"We are satisfied that Niche is effective," Walshe said.
He did say that one option to be considered in the case is to keep LEAP, but said that it doesn't have the functionality to bring the police force into the future, such as the ability to use data entered in the field using mobile devices.
"It is not the platform that is going to deliver efficiencies for Victoria Police going forward," he said.
Victoria Police executive director of infrastructure and IT, Michael Vanderheide, said that the police will introduce an enterprise service bus to make the interfaces easier.
The project has come under media scrutiny this week because two criminals who had violated their parole and hence should have been in jail committed murder. The oversight was due to a failing of the LEAP system combined with human error, according to Victoria Police Association secretary Greg Davies.