Defence Minister John Faulkner has committed up to $500
million to fixing the department's ongoing payroll and human
resource management issues.
John Faulkner (Credit: Department of Defence)
Defence some time ago flagged its intention to replace the HR
systems with a wider solution. In December last year, chief
information officer Greg Farr told ZDNet.com.au that the department
expected to ditch the "far from perfect" HR systems in 2009 in a
tender worth around $400 million.
"We are committed to investing up to $500 million in a new
payroll system, underpinned by robust processes and training
packages," Faulkner said in a speech in Sydney last week. The full
transcript is available online.
"While no pay system can be guaranteed to be completely free of
errors, we are determined to put in place processes to ensure any
mistakes are identified quickly and handled appropriately," he
In a nod to multiple reports that have characterised
Defence's HR systems as out-of-date, Faulkner said it was "an open
secret" that the department faced problems with its
"Some of Defence's ICT systems are antiquated and inadequate for
Defence's complex operational requirements as a result of being
grossly under-funded for years," he said. "Some of the department's
ICT systems are now too cumbersome, fragile and costly to operate
Faulkner said it wasn't only the well-publicised problems with
the remuneration of the elite SAS troops that had been an issue. "There are problems, for example, with the Flying Allowance, and
with Army Reserve pay. And inevitably there will be more problems
to come before new systems are put in place," he said.
The department currently operates several different payroll
systems. The PMKeyS system is responsible among other things, for
generating the salary component of remuneration for staff including
the Army. An older system, ADFPay, generates what Defence calls the
PMKeyS was first rolled out in 2002 and is based on Oracle's
PeopleSoft software. Defence had initially planned to integrate the
ADFPay functionality into PMKeyS, but the older and more limited
system is still operational, with some of the integration between
the two systems believed to still be being completed manually by
staff. PMKeyS is believed to be focused on civilian remuneration,
with the military broadly being served by ADF Pay.
These systems represent some of the largest payroll and HR
systems operational in Australia; Faulker said each fortnight
around $250 million was paid to around 100,000 ADF personnel and
Defence staff, including compensation payments.
"There are on average, 140,000 manual transactions associated
with personnel administration every fortnight — 3.45 million every
year," he said.
In a wider sense, Faulkner noted a variety of other ICT
initiates under way in the department, which have previously been
flagged by Defence chief information officer Greg Farr and others,
especially in the Defence whitepaper recently released.
These include bringing ICT capital expenditure together as a
single unit under Farr's CIO Group, eliminating the need for staff
to use multiple desktop PCs operating at different security levels,
replacing ageing equipment, consolidating Defence datacentres and
improving interoperability with allies.