Information technology abstract.
Information technology abstract.

‘Digital disaster zone’: State’s $527m IT blowout

PUBLIC service spending blowouts on new IT systems have cost taxpayers half a billion dollars under the Palasczcuk Government's watch, new data shows.

An analysis of the State Government's "digital projects dashboard" reveals regular overruns in spending on information technology projects, with Queensland Health the worst offender.

The total tally of IT projects is $527 million higher than originally planned for the projects, some of which have been dragging on for six years.

Queensland Health's disastrous electronic patient records system, ieMR - which caused chaos in hospitals after crashing last October - is costing taxpayers more than three times its original budget.

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington has accused the State Government of running a ‘digital disaster zone’. Picture: Patrick Woods
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington has accused the State Government of running a ‘digital disaster zone’. Picture: Patrick Woods

The project was costed at $86 million when it started in 2016 but the department has spent $302 million to date - a whopping $216 million over budget.

It also spent $37.5 million on new technology to replace its 20-year-old pathology system, before scrapping the project last month - before it was finished.

Queensland Health blamed the project's canning on COVID-19, saying it wanted to "ensure pathology services are not disrupted during the outbreak''.

But the digital projects dashboard reveals the project struck trouble last year when it was given a "code red" status over "quality issues with the solution that have introduced schedule delays''.

Other IT cost blowouts include a doubling in costs for the Department of Housing and Public Works to replace its ICT system.

The project was set to cost $56.3 million when it started in 2013 but taxpayers spent $114 million by the time it was completed last year. 

The dashboard states that in 2016 changes were made to the program's "strategic direction, scope, delivery methodology, timing and costs''.

The Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women was $7.7 million over budget for an IT program to help it get "value for money'' in contracts. 

The project was estimated to cost $2.2 million when it began in 2016 but has already cost $9.9 million. 

The dashboard blames the blowout on "an expanded scope, extended governance and assurance activities, completion of a proof of concept and a revised implementation schedule''. 

Opposition leader Deb Frecklington said government agencies were a "digital disaster zone'' under the Palaszczuk government. 

"While people are struggling to put food on the table, the Trad-Palasczcuk government are wasting taxpayers' money like never before,'' she said. 

"Labor is a digital disaster zone and hasn't learnt a thing from the health payroll debacle.

"The LNP will keep IT projects on track and in the black.'' 

Queensland's Chief Customer and Digital Officer, Chris Fechner, said no departments were "currently'' spending more than had been approved for IT projects.

"The difference between project commencement allocation and approved budget cannot be considered as a cost overrun,'' he said.

"Controls are in place to stop expenditure in excess of approval.''

Queensland Treasurer Jackie Trad revealed this week that COVID-19 had blown a $4 billion hold in the state budget.



Originally published as 'Digital disaster zone': State's $527m IT blowout