Queensland opposition blasts premier over AU$250m IT blowouts

State LNP Leader Deb Frecklington has called out the Queensland government for spending an additional AU$250 million on IT than budgeted for.


Queensland ICT Dashboard

Screenshot: Asha McLean/ZDNet

Queensland opposition leader Deb Frecklington has accused Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk of overseeing "IT blowouts" totalling to more than a quarter of a billion dollars.

In a brief statement following her appearance in state parliament on Tuesday morning, Frecklington said the AU$250 million could have instead funded more than 2,300 nurses, 2,400 new police officers, or 3,620 fire-fighters.

"We could have built eight new schools, delivered more than 5,400 ice rehab beds, or funded swimming lessons at all Queensland schools for a generation of kids," she continued. "I won't let these budget blowouts happen on my watch."

In a video shared via social media, the Liberal National party leader said instead of properly managing projects, Palaszczuk is "taking money out of your pocket".

"The LNP won't waste your money by mismanaging important government projects," Frecklington says in the video.

Palaszczuk hit back during question time on Tuesday, pinning a bulk of the blame on the LNP.

"In fact, one of the biggest cost blowouts was for the Future of Property and Tenants System started in 2013," she told parliament.

The premier also criticised Frecklington for sitting on the Budget review committee as the acting treasurer at the time when the committee elected to sack government IT staff.

Later during the parliamentary session, Digital Technology Minister Mick de Brenni accused the LNP of poorly calculating the AU$250 million figure.

He claimed the blowouts were in fact revised budgets for different stages of the projects.

Earlier on Tuesday, Frecklington pointed to the state's ICT Dashboard as highlighting her party's commitment to openness and accountability.

The dashboard lists projects from all departments and shows the details of each project, enabling the tracking and monitoring of progress over time.

Currently, the dashboard shows there are 154 projects totalling AU$611.7 million, with an expected cost of around AU$1.35 billion.

Of the 154 projects, 133 are listed as on track, 15 as closely monitored, and six flagged as requiring action.

The oldest project in the dashboard, the Department of Transport and Main Roads' access management system, started in June 2013 with an initial budget of AU$4.3 million. The project is now paused, and the planned expenditure of the project that was slated to finish by June 30, 2017 is now at AU$9 million.

With a total of 62 IT projects currently underway, Queensland Health, which has experienced project delays and cost blowouts with previous IT projects, has flagged three current projects as being closely monitored and four as requiring action.

The Department of Housing and Public Works (DHPW) meanwhile has the largest number of projects being closely monitored, at five.

Speaking at the 4th Australian Government Data Summit in Canberra on Tuesday, Charlotte Crabtree, executive director at the DHPW Centre for Insights, Data Sharing and Analytics, said part of her role at the newly formed centre is to help the state government make better use of its data, with an initial project expected to overhaul the way procurement is conducted.

While tight-lipped on the specifics of the project the eight-month-old centre is undertaking, Crabtree said the data-focused teams will be looking at specifically procurement, the use of contractors, and the use of consultants, as well as IT spend.

With AAP

Updated 10.15 pm AEDT 6 March 2018: Added remarks from Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.


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