Vic Police not equipped for future: report

Vic Police not equipped for future: report

Summary: The Victorian Government has faced criticism that the state's police force is ill equipped, with a poor IT outlook and shoddy attitude towards project planning. This week, the state's deputy premier has promised change.

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The Victorian Government has faced criticism that the state's police force is ill equipped, with a poor IT outlook and shoddy attitude towards project planning. This week, the state's deputy premier has promised change.

"Victoria Police, at present, does not have the capacity to deliver the major IT projects necessary to provide future capability for best-practice policing," a report handed down to parliament by the Victorian State Services Authority (VSSA) said.

The report into the command, management and functions of the senior structure of Victoria Police, authored by Jack Rush QC, took the service to task for engaging in a project culture that sees cost overruns brushed off as minor inconveniences. Worse still, the inquiry determined that no structure exists for defining the IT needs of Victoria Police for the future.

The inquiry fingered the disastrously costly Law Enforcement Assistance Program (LEAP) replacement initiative as a prime example of this poor planning.

The LEAP database was flagged for replacement in 2005 at a cost of $59 million over three years. The business case for the replacement project, dubbed LINK, was later found to "grossly underestimate the cost and complexity of the project", according to the state's ombudsman. It also said that the LINK project had been built to the budget, rather than the system being built for purpose first, and price second.

The VSSA report analysed several failed technology initiatives, and found a variety of issues, including high turnover of project managers, technical leads and senior project staff; a change in project scope mid-development; a failure to properly update business-case documents; and poor project-management practices, wherein two or three managers would be steering a project at one time.

It said that to prevent such issues from occurring in the future, Victoria Police should be subject to vigorous external oversight when it comes to the implementation of IT.

The inquiry recommended that Victoria Police appoint a senior technology executive to the agency with experience in delivering projects.

Victoria Police has been through its fair share of chief information officers in the last few years, with Valda Berzins leaving the agency in shambles in 2008, and incoming CIO Michael Vanderheide left to pick up the pieces.

Vanderheide worked to restore credibility to Victoria Police's IT services branch before moving to CenITex in May last year.

Victoria Police's organisational chart as at 15 November 2011 lists Cliff Owen as the acting executive director, Infrastructure and IT.

The report also encouraged the appointment of a Corporate Advisory Group, which would see a representative from the Department of Treasury and Finance and a representative from the Department of Justice, among others, appointed to oversee the agency's IT projects.

The steering committee would also play host to a project auditor, who would have full, unrestricted access to all information relating to a project and its team.

Victorian Deputy Premier and Minister for Police and Emergency Services Peter Ryan said in a statement yesterday that such reform is necessary for the state to have a modern, efficient and effective police force for the future.

"These reforms — including better workforce planning, modernising the regulatory framework, clarifying the accountabilities of police command and improving the accountability for, and delivery of, information technology projects — will give Victorians a police force equipped to face the crime-fighting and law-enforcement challenges of the 21st century.

"Victorians are very proud of their police force, but reform is necessary if we are to have a truly modern and efficient policing service in this state," Ryan said in a statement yesterday.

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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