Digital Dashboard: Status Review Of ICT Projects And .

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The Auditor-General provides assurance to Parliament on theaccountability and performance of the Victorian Public Sector. TheAuditor-General conducts financial audits and performance audits, andreports on the results of these audits to Parliament.On the 15th of April 2015, the Auditor-General tabled his InformationSystems Audit report, Digital Dashboard: Status Review of ICTProjects and Initiatives.1

The Victorian Public Sector does not have a good track record withinformation and communications technology (or ICT) projects. Anumber of VAGO's previous reports have highlighted significantweaknesses in the planning and implementation of ICT projects, whichoften incur substantial delays and cost overruns.What do we mean by ICT? ICT is any equipment that electronicallycollects, records and/or transmits data and image-based systems. ICTprojects refer to activities that are ICT driven or enabled or where ICTis fundamental to a project achieving agreed objectives, benefits oroutputs.2

This audit provides a status review of selected public sector ICTprojects and initiatives.We found that Victorian agencies and entities are unable to: comprehensively and accurately report on actual ICT expenditureor project status assure Parliament and the Victorian community that thegovernment’s significant ICT investments result in public value.3

This audit is undertaken in multiple phases.In phase one of this audit, and the phase to which this report relates,the key areas examined were: How much is spent on ICT in the public sector? Are ICT projects being appropriately planned, managed andimplemented in terms of time, cost, governance and benefitsrealisation?The audit scope was comprehensive, and included 417 public sectoragencies and entities. It required data on ICT expenditure and projectsfor the financial periods 2011–12 to 2013–14.Phase two of this audit will include a more comprehensive examinationof selected ICT projects. We will examine governance processes overthese projects, and determine whether the projects have effectivelydelivered benefits and value. These findings will be reported on insubsequent years.4

In relation to the first focus area, ICT expenditure, the audit found thatgetting information on the Victorian Government's ICT expenditure is acomplex and challenging exercise.In particular, there is no consolidated reporting on overall public sectorICT expenditure in Victoria.It was also found that agencies, in general, are unable to provide basicinformation on ICT expenditure. Some of the reasons provided for thisinclude: that financial processes do not enable or require comprehensivedisclosure of actual ICT expenditure ICT management and functions are decentralised and thereforerequire coordination across numerous and disparate units withinthe agency to determine this information recent mergers as well as machinery-of-government changes haveresulted in information being unavailable some financial and project records are held by another agency,entity or organisation, and are therefore unavailable that key staff with relevant information had left the organisation.5

This chart shows the average annual ICT expenditure since 2011–12.6

We found that the former Department of Education and EarlyChildhood Development and Victoria Police are the top spenders.While 3.02 billion dollars is a large amount, this is considered to be aconservative figure. For example, this figure does not include: the former Department of Transport’s ICT expenditure for thefinancial year 2011–12 , and Public Transport Victoria’s reported cost for its 738.8 million dollarmyki Ticketing Solution for the financial years 2011–12 to 2013–14.The Department of Premier and Cabinet, or DPC, as the departmentnow responsible for the ICT portfolio, needs to provide strategicleadership and effective guidance to accurately monitor and report onthe government’s ICT spend.7

In relation to the second focus area – of examining whether ICTprojects are being appropriately planned, managed and implemented –we found that getting information on the government's ICT projects isas complex and challenging as obtaining overall agency ICT spend.Agencies and entities, in general, are unable to provide relevantinformation on their ICT projects.We also found that financial and project management processescurrently in place do not allow for full and accurate records of actualproject costs.Without knowing the full actual costs of ICT projects, it is not possiblefor the government to assure Parliament that its investment representsvalue for money.It is noted that two of the three most expensive ICT projects—HealthSMART and RandL—were not initially reported by the relevantagencies. This information was provided after prompting by the auditteam.8

The government is currently unable to account for its significant ICTexpenditure and projects.8

The audited agencies and entities reported a total of 1 249 active ICTprojects during the financial periods 2011–12 to 2013–14. It should benoted that only projects over given thresholds were requested. Projectsbelow the thresholds were reported in aggregate and not included inthe number reported here.Of the 1 249 active ICT projects, nearly 35 per cent went over budgetor are over budget prior to their completion date.This chart shows the cost variation of 430 ICT projects that are overbudget.9

And, as shown in the chart on this slide, nearly half of these ICTprojects were completed, or are expected to be completed, after theirdue dates.10

Of the 1 249 active ICT projects, a business case was prepared for alittle over 70 per cent.A review of a sample of these business cases revealed that only 38 percent had the minimum required elements, such as financial analysisand expected benefits.Less than 25 per cent of the 1 249 projects had a benefits realisationplan. Only 33 per cent of a reviewed sample effectively laid out theexpected benefits and set out measures and targets for these.Project evaluations to measure the achievement of expected benefitswere found to be minimal.11

Department secretaries, under DPC’s guidance, need to work withtheir portfolio agencies to monitor ICT expenditure, and to plan,manage and implement their ICT projects.12

In total we made eight recommendations.Recommendations have either been directed to DPC or to alldepartment secretaries for their relevant portfolio agencies and entities.As the department now responsible for the ICT portfolio, there is aneed for DPC to provide strategic leadership and guidance to agenciesand entities to ensure they appropriately record, report and monitortheir ICT expenditure and projects.We also recommend the Department of Treasury and Financeimplement a mandatory framework that requires agencies to report ontheir ICT expenditure in their annual reports, similar to requirements inplace for areas that have substantially less spent on them, such asgovernment advertising.13

All recommendations have been accepted and remediation datesagreed. We will be following up the remediation of these actions as partof the Auditor-General’s follow-up process.14

To recap, the key messages from the audit are: that the government is currently unable to account for its significantICT expenditure and status of projects this lack of accountability needs to be urgently addressed DPC needs to provide strategic leadership and effective guidanceto accurately monitor and report on the government’s ICT spend and, department secretaries, under DPC’s guidance, need to workwith their portfolio agencies to monitor ICT expenditure, andeffectively manage their ICT projects.15

The overall message of the audit is that Victorian agencies and entitiesare currently not in a position to assure Parliament and the Victoriancommunity that its ICT investments have resulted in value for moneyand justify the significant expenditure of taxpayers' money.In May 2015, we will report on the current governance arrangementsfor ICT use in the Victorian Government. Governance weaknesseshave been a recurring issue revealed in departments over many yearsand leadership in ICT is needed.16

Relevant audits are listed on this slide.17


Systems Audit report, Digital Dashboard: Status Review of ICT Projects and Initiatives. 1 . . is fundamental to a project achieving agreed objectives, benefits or outputs. 2 . This audit provides a status review of selected public sector ICT projects and initiatives.

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