Grants system laissez-faire with billions

Grants system laissez-faire with billions

Summary: An Oracle-based system used to administer grants for the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) was not up to the task of monitoring the billions of dollars which has passed through it over the years, the federal auditor-general has said.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Oracle, Security
4

An Oracle-based system used to administer grants for the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) was not up to the task of monitoring the billions of dollars which has passed through it over the years, the federal auditor-general has said.

The NHMRC's information systems do not adequately support the NHMRC's core business.

Auditor-general

The auditor-general's report on the council said that its core information systems left much to be desired.

"The NHMRC's information systems do not adequately support the NHMRC's core business — grant management. Its primary grant management system contains substantial data anomalies. Furthermore, the system does not accommodate the monitoring of grants financial and progress reporting requirements, or capture qualitative information from submitted grant reports."

The system had no internet interface, so that applications had to be uploaded and budget amounts entered manually, risking processing errors. The reports function was also unable to provide inaccurate reports because of the high number of duplicate records.

The original scope of the system, implemented in 2002, had been to only manage project grants, but it had expanded to record other grants programs. This had led to multiple databases, which the auditor-general did not consider ideal.

The system was unable to monitor the progress of grant applications or to flag projects for which the final reports were late. It also couldn't check if researchers held more than the allowed six grants per person. There was no way in the system to make funding contingent on projects meeting certain criteria such as ethics requirements. The system also only held one financial year, while grants could go over multiple financial years.

The NHMRC responded that it had been aware of the problem, and since 2007, had been developing a replacement system which is to go live to all grant schemes by 2010. Pilots of the new system were scheduled for this year.

The new system will be a customised version of CA's Clarity. The budget for the system to the end of 2012 is $3.3 million. CA is receiving around $3 million for the implementation while Logica will be paid just under $1.5 million for hosting the system until January 2012.

The auditor-general believed that the new system would fix many of its concerns, but recommended that the council introduce a regular data verification program, compliance controls, an interface between the new system and the council's financials, and good documentation.

Topics: Oracle, Security

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

4 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • System Choice

    Not a good choice of system - but will be a little bit better than what was there before.
    anonymous
  • Why highlight Oracle

    It seems you are trying to dump on Oracle, when this is really a custom Application written on top of an Oracle Database. It was not the Database that caused the issue, but the application built on top of it. There are thousands of applications written on top of oracle, but you fail to mention oracle when they work fine. Like I2 that runs woolworths supply chain and has helped them save millions of dollars, yet you guys never mention that it runs on oracle then. ZDnet must be a microsoft/SAP shop they way you do your fair reporting.
    anonymous
  • Oracle

    I don't think we're in the habit of sledging Oracle more than any other vendor -- we try and report fairly on all. You can certainly find plenty of articles on ZDNet praising and criticising MS, SAP, Symantec, etc etc in equal measure.

    I'm not sure the auditor would have mentioned it so clearly if it was just a database thing; my impression was that there was some app work in there as well. We'll look into it further.

    Cheers,

    Renai LeMay
    News Editor
    ZDNet.com.au
    anonymous
  • Hysterical

    Don't understand your point - Clarity can run on Oracle database so it is likely that Oracle will remain. The article is fine as it points out the short comings of the system running on Oracle not any short comings of Oracle.

    My point was that using Clarity for grants management will entail lots of costly customization when there are more effective solutions available that can be configured.
    anonymous