Politicizing IT failure in Australia

The scale of waste that arises from government IT failure makes these projects a healthy target for politicians seeking political advantage against rivals. Here's the latest example.
Written by Michael Krigsman, Contributor
Government IT tends to be large, expensive, and fraught with risk. The scale of waste that arises from failure makes these projects a healthy target for politicians seeking to gain political advantage against rivals. As a result, politicians sometimes attempt to use failed government projects to their own political advantage.

The latest case occurs in Australia where John-Paul Langbroe, leader of the Queensland opposition, calls for changing government leaders over an apparent failure. From his website:

Revelations the Crime and Misconduct Commission has been called on to investigate the handling of a whole-of-government computer server project raises further questions about the Minister’s performance, the LNP said today.

“How many reviews and investigations need to occur before [Minister for Public Works] Robert Schwarten admits these projects have veered off course while he is at the wheel.

“We’ve seen changes in this department’s direction, changes to deadlines and changes in management — it’s time we see a change of Minister.”

Apparently, Langbroe's comments were in response to a new investigation into the Foundation Infrastructure Project, a major IT transformation initiative started in 2008. According to ZDNet Australia, which broke the story, anonymous comments sparked the investigation:

CITEC, the Queensland Government's primary technology provider, will hand over two reviews into its information and communication technology consolidation (ICTC) program to the Crime and Misconduct commission following anonymous allegations made about the program.

An anonymous email sent to the department made allegations regarding CITEC's Foundation Infrastructure Project (FIP) in mid-April, according to a statement from CITEC. The anonymous complainant made allegations of procurement, infrastructure, datacentre and funding issues, but according to CITEC, there were no solid leads to go on.

At this point we do not know whether the project is suffering waste or abuse; unsubstantiated allegations are not proof of failure. Nonetheless, this case highlights the scope, scale, and importance of IT failures.

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