Qld govt email system under fire again

Qld govt email system under fire again

Summary: The Queensland Government is under fire from the Liberal-National Party opposition this morning over the IDES email system, after a leak emerged claiming that the service is costing $23,000 per user, forcing a counter-offensive from Queensland ICT minister, Simon Finn.


The Queensland Government is under fire from the Liberal-National Party opposition this morning over the IDES email system, after a leak emerged claiming that the service is costing $23,000 per user, forcing a counter-offensive from Queensland ICT minister, Simon Finn.

Tally board

(Tally image by With Associates, CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Identity, Directory and Email Services (IDES) program was announced in 2008 by the Labor Government and would see 80,000 email accounts migrated onto the Microsoft Exchange 2007 platform with savings projected at $123 million over a decade if all went to plan.

The Courier Mail aired a story this morning that accused the state Labor government of spending $46 million on the system that only had 2000 users currently active. The paper boiled down the statistic and heralded that the system was costing the Queensland taxpayer $23,000 per user, a figure that the shadow ICT minister, Ros Bates, leapt on.

"The Bligh Government's pattern of monumental waste continues. The $23,000 cost per user is the price of a family car.

"This is the same sort of waste that occurred with the Health payroll debacle where Queensland Health fundamentally declared themselves exempt from good project governance, project management disciplines and pragmatic business process reform," Bates said in a statement this morning.

The government immediately jumped on the defensive, however, describing the report as a beat-up.

"The report today is just wrong. There are currently over 2000 users migrated to IDES, and this number is increasing every week — in fact, 53,000 users will have migrated by the end of 2013," said Finn.

"This project is progressing on budget and within scope — by any objective measure it is a success," he added.

Figures aren't on Finn's side, however; the Queensland auditor-general tabled a report in June that said the IDES system is set to miss key delivery dates. The auditor-general's report said that by the end of 2012, only 20,000 of the planned 81,000 users would have migrated to the new platform.

The report granted the government a certain amount of leeway, though, as disastrous events like the Queensland Floods had forced the government to re-evaluate its project spending, which Finn was quick to re-iterate today.

"This year's natural disasters caused all departmental expenditure to be reviewed and re-prioritised. Although this project is behind time for this year, it is on budget and on track," Finn assured, adding that the opposition often criticises the government for rushing technology projects and is now being criticised for "taking its time".

Chairman of the Outsourcing Council Asia Pacific, Bruce Mills, a vocal opponent of the incumbent government and its ICT practises, today added his voice to the IDES fracas, describing Finn as a "clueless ringmaster".

"Be it a fundamental failure to not maintain a whole-of-government package that underpins every department in the Queensland Government through to one of the most basic functionalities in business, emails systems, it is clear the longer this ICT minister is allowed to continue in the portfolio the longer the circus will continue.

"The Queensland ICT minister is now presiding over the largest collection of whole-of-government stuff-ups in the state's history," Mills said in a statement.

Topics: Government, Government AU

Luke Hopewell

About Luke Hopewell

A fresh recruit onto the tech journalism battlefield, Luke Hopewell is eager to see some action. After a tour of duty in the belly of the Telstra beast, he is keen to report big stories on the enterprise beat. Drawing on past experience in radio, print and magazine, he plans to ask all the tough questions you want answered.

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  • Those 2000 users would be the CITEC/ DPW internal staff right? What about anyone from another agency?
    They should have just paid an external organisation to build the solution with tight delivery timeframes, penalites for late delivery, and a mandate that agencies move over to the solution.
    Putting a government agency in charge was always fraught with danger, simply because politics comes into it moreso then would have if each agency was told to use a commercial organisation. It would have been deployed 2 years ago.
  • Yes you're right those 2000 users are CITEC and DPW internal users. The media reporting is not very accurate in reporting it as an "email system". IDES is an Identity and Access management platform with an email service as the first (and at this stage as far as I know only) application to be delivered via the platform. It's probably still a waste of money but to say the money is wasted on an email system is not right.
  • Let's hear the business case. Can they send email now? Will they still be able to send email $23,000/user later? Probably with less reliability knowing our competent government.
    This is money that should be being spent on real services, hospital beds, doctors, nurses, police, teachers, important services that the state so badly needs. Not lining the pockets of the latest Microsoft sales person who managed to wine and dine the most corrupt politicians. It's disgusting what goes on in Queensland politics, and no one is being held accountable. IT companies are taking advantage at every turn. Most of the people at the helm aren't even employee; they are contractors. Please let there be an election where someone with a conscience and a giant broom gets into power and they can step in and clean up this mess!