WA shared services goes ahead, for now

Western Australian Treasurer Troy Buswell has given the state's troubled shared services program a new lease of life on the condition that budget targets and implementation milestones be met.

Western Australian Treasurer Troy Buswell has given the state's troubled shared services program a new lease of life on the condition that budget targets and implementation milestones be met.


(Credit: WA government)

"This project has a sorry history which this government does not want to see repeated. I am committed therefore to providing aggressive oversight of it from this point forward," the treasurer said in a statement.

Western Australia's Office of Shared Services was set up in 2003 with expected costs of $91 million, to be offset by $50 million a year savings on the government's $315 million back office budget. The project was set to be completed by December 2006, with around 90 agencies to be using the services.

By December last year, as the then opposition called for a judicial inquiry, Buswell said the budget had blown out to $435 million with project completion not expected until 2013.

He believed the project to be an example of the former government's incompetence and vowed to lift the "veil of secrecy" around its mismanagement, stating that an independent review by ICT consultants Quadrant Group would be released today on the subject.

He said he had almost called a halt to the shared services program as it stood, and Oracle had came close to having its human resources and payroll component excluded, with a hybrid HR/payroll system being introduced instead.

Oracle holds a 10-year, $66.8 million contract with the state to deliver the project's key technology platform of which the latest component, the HR/Payroll system, went live in November 2007. Oracle has subcontracted to a second supplier, Perth-based company ASG, who also holds a separate, $88 million deal with the state in its own right.

Yet, given the $202 million the state had already thrown at the project, and that the Quadrant report had indicated that progress had been made, the treasurer decided to give the current form of the project "qualified" support.

"I will most certainly not allow the situation to re-emerge where a high-spending, lazy government failed to manage its affairs and effectively cost the WA taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in the process," Buswell said.

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