Qld drops shared services dream

Qld drops shared services dream

Summary: Queensland Premier Anna Bligh yesterday revealed the state would abandon its centralised IT shared services model as its exclusive structure for delivering IT services in the wake of the Queensland Health payroll disaster and damaging revelations of widespread problems in associated programs.


Queensland Premier Anna Bligh yesterday revealed the state would abandon its centralised IT shared services model as its exclusive structure for delivering IT services in the wake of the Queensland Health payroll disaster and damaging revelations of widespread problems in associated programs.

Anna Bligh

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh (Anna Bligh - 070507 image by David Jackmanson, CC2.0)

"The Queensland Government will abandon the one-size-fits-all shared services model as the exclusive model for corporate services across the whole of government," Bligh said in a statement. "The whole-of-government IT provider, CorpTech, will be overhauled to better match agency needs — this will include an assessment of which agencies are best served by their own technical services."

Yesterday the state's Auditor-General Glenn Poole handed down a landmark report into the payroll debacle, as well as three other massive state government technology consolidation projects.

At the root of the Queensland Health payroll nightmare, which has continued to dog Bligh's premiership due to a string of Health staff not being paid on time or sometimes at all over the past few months, is the fact that CorpTech, Queensland Health and prime contractor IBM significantly underestimated the necessary scope of the project.

The report stated the project also had poor governance structures and had significantly blown its initial budget.

Three other major technology consolidation projects — which respectively aimed to: consolidate datacentre and network infrastructrue, build a centralised email and identity management system, and build whole-of-government finance and HR platforms — also suffered governance problems, and although they hadn't blown their budget, were drastically behind schedule and had changed "direction, scope and methods of delivery" since inception.

A key player in delivering the platforms has been Qld shared IT services agency CITEC.

Two of the three projects were put in place after the state's Service Delivery and Performance Commission delivered a landmark report in 2006, named ICT Governance in the Queensland Government, with a third initiated in 2005.

Bligh said while the principles behind the shared services model worked for some agencies, the government recognised there was a place for larger agencies to remain independent in providing payroll and HR systems.

The premier revealed that PWC Partner Roger McComiskie would undertake a formal review of the shared services business model to be delivered by the end of September this year and presented to the director general of the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

Fixing Queensland Health

Queensland Health will persist in its efforts to remediate its larger payroll issues, but Health Minister Lucas revealed the department would also move to a localised payroll model over the next three months, in which "hubs" will be set up to serve payroll servers around Queensland.

"What people on the ground, working in our hospitals and their unions have told me is that we need local information and local decision making when it comes to payroll — and we have listened to those concerns," Lucas said. "This will mean a hire-to-retire service in each payroll hub and Queensland Health Corporate Services will be restructured to ensure local payroll systems are adequately supported.

In addition, the premier said the experience of the Queensland Health payroll implementation had shown a one-size-fits-all approach to payroll across the Queensland Government should be abandoned and CorpTech overhauled.

"Larger agencies with complex payroll requirements should be able to use the payroll system which suits them, and smaller agencies should have the ability to cluster with similar agencies and utilise the one payroll system," Bligh said.

Queensland Health's use of Infor's WorkBrain rostering system will also be re-examined. "Ernst & Young have been engaged by Queensland Health to provide a review of the most commonly deployed payroll and rostering solutions in the national and international healthcare sector," said the premier's statement.

"Over the next three months Queensland Health will work with Ernst & Young in consultation with staff and unions to confirm the most suitable roster and award interpreter configuration that delivers staff the payroll outcome they deserve as quickly as possible. This may involve reconfiguring the current application or introducing alternate solutions."

"I apologise sincerely to every one of those Queensland Health employees and their families who have been affected by the recent payroll problems," said Bligh.

Topics: Government, Government AU

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  • Is it just me or does every few years a group of consultants come in and "recommend" the the complete opposite of what is in place be instituted as "best practice" or some similar weasel words.

    I imagine that, a year or so, after QLD have finished the de-centralisation process, some consultancy group will start espousing the benefits of re-centralisation and how that's the way of the future.

    All of the politicians and bureaucrats who drank the consultant's Kool-Aid and insisted on de-centralisation will have moved on, most of them to consultancy jobs, so the corporate knowledge will have been forgotten and it will all happen over again.

    Cynical, me? Nah, I just tell it how I have seen it work.
  • Mate, the problem isn't the consultants.

    The problem is the inept senior public servants who are incompetent to do their jobs.

    It's quite simple.....
    1: Join the Public Service.
    2: Successfully navigate your way from home to the building every day for 10 years.
    3: Get constantly promoted as a function of time served.
    4: Get put in charge of multi-million dollar projects.
    5: Waffle about, blow the budget and increase staff numbers under you to build your own little empire.
    6: Receive word that questions are being asked externally about where the money went and what you have to show for it.
    7: Panic !
    8: Bring in external consultants/contractors to actually do the work you and your team of permanent idiots were supposed to accomplish in the first place.
    9: If successful (usually) take all the credit.
    10: If it all goes t*ts up (sometimes) blame the consultants.
    11: Get promoted.
    12 Rinse, repeat.
  • Both of you are correct but also not... Having been on both sides of this fence (consultant and public servant), the frustration is that priorities are set by people who don't really know what is best. It is not only government hamstrung by red tape, by power-grabbers who refuse to look outside their own nest (which they have comfortably featured thank you very much), by politics hi-jacking any chance of achieving success. Best organisations in any sector value innovation, pay attention and respond creatively to their challenges (at all levels). The model is not the enemy in and of itself. Models (not the catwalk kind), consultants and public servants aren't the enemies - poor governance and leadership are!
  • Catch,
    the reason why some senior public servants are inept is that governments have a habit of promoting those who tell them what they want to hear, rather than the honest ones who tell it like it is, including the polictically unpalatable truth.

    When shared services was evangelised around the Qld Public Service about 7 years ago (with the help of some consultants), those senior officers who told the government it would not work for large departments were ignored and silenced by various means.

    The lesson for government here is to:
    - take advice from a wide variety of different sources, not just a few trusted lieutenants
    - respect those who tell the truth even when the truth hurts
    - ignore the hype and look for substance over form
  • CenITex in Victoria should be next if the Victorian Govt have any brains at all !
  • This particular shared services model appears impoverished to the extreme.
    In 2002 and 2003 the Queensland and Western Australian Governments embraced this particular model of shared services, which is to operate in very large clusters of agencies.
    This was opposite to New South Wales which operated in hubs of smaller to medium portfolio agencies or large agencies standing alone.
    Despite having the experience of the failure of the Federal Governments cluster models to draw upon, both Queensland and Western Australia batted on. South Australia was subsequently seduced by the smooth talk and promises that ERP vendors offer.
    After 7 years, 2010 neither Western Australia nor Queensland has achieved any measure of success. Both have spent royal commission levels of taxpayer money and for a projected whole of Government net recurrent operating loss, this contributor estimates at $150 million.
    Standardisation of services or the 80/20, creates workarounds which in turn add hidden costs of about 20%. In a one billion dollar solution hidden costs can amount to $200 million annually.
    With the benefit of hindsight and an Auditor General prepared to provide independent advice, Queensland has made a courageous and correct call. Continuing would have always ended in tatters.
    Western Australia on the other hand does not have the same level of courage. Despite probably spending well over $600 million ($200 million to the ERP), the Government is intent on spending a billion dollars and for just $55 million of “savings”.
    What fuels this thinking is beyond comprehension. Perhaps a conflict of interest, perhaps important people are protecting their reputations. Perhaps Ms Bligh has courage and others not.
  • why doesn't Anna Bligh sell all the millions of dollars worth of unused hardware sitting in CITEC'S data centre to pay their staff. Oh that's right she's busy selling off assetts we actually use. PATHETIC CITEC PATHETIC ANNA BLIGH.