Own motion investigation into ICT-enabled projects

24 Nov 2011

Report Foreword:

1. The management of information and communication technology enabled (ICT-enabled) projects at the state, national and international level, in both the private and public sectors, has been the subject of considerable research and debate over recent years. The consensus is that these projects are often poorly managed and failures are common.

2. In Victoria over the last few years, in our respective roles as Auditor-General and Ombudsman, we have tabled in Parliament a number of reports relating to ICT-enabled projects. These reports have identified significant shortcomings in the public sector’s management of such projects and have included numerous recommendations about how such management can be improved.

3. Despite these reports, we see little sign of lessons learnt in the public sector. The evidence to date is that the public sector is not managing ICT-enabled projects effectively, as demonstrated by the current difficulties that Victoria is facing in this area and the increasingly adverse public comment about major ICT-enabled projects. A new and more disciplined approach is required if the government is to avoid being faced with continuing cost overruns and failures to deliver.

4. This investigation was conducted by the Victorian Ombudsman under the Ombudsman Act 1973 and two of the Auditor-General’s staff were seconded to the project.

5. The investigation has examined 10 major ICT-enabled projects in the Victorian public sector. It identified that despite the extensive guidance and literature available, agencies are making the same mistakes around planning, governance, project management and procurement that our offices have observed and reported on for some years. This includes the lack of accountability of those responsible for these project failures, especially senior agency executives and the Department of Treasury and Finance.

6. We recommend a strong and coherent framework for the development of future ICT-enabled projects. This report advises on how projects can be better managed in the future. Given the significant rate of change in ICT, it is also imperative that any management framework has sufficient flexibility to respond quickly and effectively to change.

7. The report makes 58 recommendations that if adopted will improve the way that current and future ICT-enabled projects are planned and delivered.

8. We both strongly support the conclusions and recommendations made in this report.


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