Newman confirms Qld govt will chase IBM via Commission of Inquiry

Newman confirms Qld govt will chase IBM via Commission of Inquiry

Summary: IBM has found itself in the sights of the Queensland government again after the state premier officially gave the green light today for a Commission of Inquiry into what happened with the Queensland Health payroll debacle.


Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has announced a Commission of Inquiry into the bungled Queensland Health payroll system.

Earlier this week, Newman hinted that the state government may consider a royal commission into the flawed IBM computer system introduced by the former Labor government. The system saw thousands of public servants underpaid, overpaid, or left unpaid.

Newman has now confirmed that, rather than a Royal Commission, a Commission of Inquiry will go ahead, beginning February next year. He said that this inquiry will have all the powers of a Royal Commission.

The inquiry will be headed by former Court of Appeal Judge Richard Chesterman QC.

"We need to make sure this never happens again," Newman said. "This surely cannot be swept under the carpet."

However, the Queensland Nurses Union has slammed the inquiry, saying that it's an attempt to distract from mass job cuts.

The union's secretary, Des Elder, said an inquiry is a waste of money, and the money would be better spent reversing some of the "savage" cuts to jobs and services in Queensland Health. Earlier this year, the Newman government slashed 1,537 health jobs and blamed the losses on the payroll debacle.

"We have had at least nine inquiries into the payroll already and we do not need another one," Elder said in a statement.

"It was an administrative mess-up, and we should just put it down to experience and get on with delivering health and aged care services to the people of Queensland."

IBM had appeared to consider the issue to be over in March last year, with IBM Australia's Managing Director telling ZDNet that the project was "behind us and behind Queensland".

However, the Liberal National Party sought to dig up the past, obtaining documents from the former government, which showed that it had a strong case to sue IBM.

An independent report by accounting firm KPMG earlier this year estimated the total cost to run and fix the system would be AU$1.2 billion.

KPMG also found that the bungled system blew out this state's annual health budget by AU$150 million.

Topics: Government, Government AU, IBM

Michael Lee

About Michael Lee

A Sydney, Australia-based journalist, Michael Lee covers a gamut of news in the technology space including information security, state Government initiatives, and local startups.

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  • No surprises

    I figure the inquiry is necessary, but partisan politics was going to raise its ugly head no matter who was on the commission, which is why I figured it was better to allow the Governor (who is supposed to be non-partisan) to make the appointments on her own initiative instead of making them on the advice of the Government, which would be the normal procedure.
    John L. Ries
  • Going after IBM - with Queensland Health's IT record????

    having worked for the department for 25 years, I have seen it all. I have seen Queensland Health in action with so many commercial providers, especially IT, who have entered into contracts with the department, all plumped up at scoring a prime contract to produce the next proprietary white elephant system.

    Queensland Health cannot bring itself to use any system off the shelf. A thousand other hospitals around the world might be using anmimpressive system, but, no, that's not good enough for these wankers. They have to have something designed from the ground up. Something career-making.

    It always ends the same way. Queensland Health asks for something, but they want it at cheaply as possible, and inmhalf the time that is possible. The vendor agrees, but adds a clause to the comtract allowing for time and cost increases. Queensland Health moves the goal posts 15 or 20 times, and the costs begin to mount.

    In the first instance, what is asked for is rarely what's required. But imbeciles are placed in charge of the procurement. The poor vendor doesn't realise that his company is going to be destroyed.

    Eventually, a sub-standard system is produced and rolled-out, whether or not it works (check out the duress system at The Park Centre for Mental Health). The vendor is then bullied into years of modifications at his expense, until he goes bankrupt. Then the system is unsupported, and invariably still does not work properly, and cannot interface with any other system.

    But never mind, by now, the next ladder-climber has come along, and wants to develop a system to make two systems communicate, but it must be a career-making proprietary system... And on it goes.

    Who cares- it's not their money that's being wasted. And generally, by the time that someone works out that the new system has blown a massive hole in the budget, the moron who instigated the process has been noticed and is long-gone, doing damage somewhere else.
  • The flip side

    While many of Oberon's points are spot on, the flip side is that some companies sell with their A team and deliver with their C team, especially when executing Government projects. In many instances their sales presentations comprise of screen shots based on "dreamware" and the client is used as a Beta site on software never used, nor implemented before. References are not grilled effectively and the wrong questions are asked of them by staff, who are not sufficiently qualified. The result is scope and expense creep. There are many effective ways to rectify both sides - just one of which is to appoint a few professionals, pay them well and save $Billions, rather than the prior Government's strategy of appointing armies of sub standard public servants, promoting them and then being surprised at the resultant carnage.
    johnjc vickers