Notes from a meeting between three independent IT consultants and the Queensland government have revealed that the government was issued with warnings and provided with advice to avoid ICT projects failing, in particular around the Queensland Health payroll debacle.
The Courier Mail first sighted the notes transcribing a September 2009 meeting between the three consultants and the then Department of Public Works deputy director-general Natalie McDonald. The notes show that the government was made aware of the ICT industry's concerns, particularly over international ICT project failure rates that were as high as 90 per cent, and claims that reports were, at times, re-written to suit outcomes, or even conveniently "lost".
ZDNet Australia contacted one of the consultants, who verified the accuracy of the notes and the existence of the meeting, but refused to further comment, stating that it could jeopardise their dealings with others.
In the meeting, one of the consultants said that government has a culture of denying the existence of any problems, resulting in a system that discourages responsibility, accountability or ownership of issues.
However, he also outlined ways that the government could improve, including adopting individual key performance indicators, and said that the timing was "absolutely perfect" to start such initiatives, due to the reorganisation that was occurring in government at the time.
Another consultant at the meeting brought up the Queensland Health Payroll project as an issue, stating that it faced a bleak outcome and was hiding behind political outcomes and agendas. He said that the project was most likely to fail, due to what the project was covering up.
However, when Queensland IT Minister Simon Finn was questioned on the matter in parliament this morning, he said that the three consultants had simply been trying to promote their products to the government. Additionally, he said that there were already well known issues and delays with the payroll project at the time of the meeting, and the claims of failures would have been no surprise.
Two years later, however, and the alleged claims of missing reports or political pressure around the project, and ones similar to it, have not been resolved. Former Software Queensland board member Bruce Mills last month resigned from the position, claiming that the issue still exists and the Queensland ICT Industry Workgroup, which Software Queensland is a member of, had become gagged because of funding flowing from the government.
Mills recently wrote that he was still waiting on comments from the Workgroup on the payroll project, as well as several others, and why certain reports had not been produced. He said that he had also received political pressure to remain silent on the issues.
The Workgroup has since rejected any political gagging exists and Minister Finn has said that Mills' claims are unfounded.