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Auditor tells government to leave tech projects to the experts


The Queensland Government is being urged to carefully assess new technology projects to avoid the risk of future cost blowouts and overruns.

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The state’s auditor-general handed down a report into government technology projects on Wednesday.

Auditor-General Brendan Worrall noted that Queensland had 118 projects worth $1.6 billion under way in June this year, with only 55 running on time and 73 keeping within budget.

Government departments expect about 27 projects to take least 50 per cent longer to complete than planned, and 30 projects to cost at least 50 per cent more than expected.

He reported that three department technology projects with a combined outlay of $137.7 million had failed since 2018.

“Upgrades and changes are needed, and they are invariably complex and difficult,” the report said.

“Unfortunately, many technology projects currently do not hit their deadlines, stay within budget, or achieve their objectives.”

However, Worrall noted that governments worldwide struggled to deliver technology projects successfully.

He pointed out that two recent surveys indicated that between 80-90 per cent of all public sector technology projects globally were not delivered successfully.

“This is not unique to the Queensland public sector,” the report said.

“National and international reports highlight the problems faced by other governments in delivering new or upgrading existing services.

“The public sector can improve by examining the reasons behind the successes and failures of technology projects.”

The report urged the Queensland government to use its six-month hold on new non-essential technology projects to reconfirm its priorities and ensure that future projects were set up on sound foundations.

It recommended that project leaders be given the autonomy to actively lead and challenge projects and ensure that projects are aligned with business outcomes.

The report said departments should ensure both internal and external teams, particularly outside software providers, are working towards the same goal.

It also recommended that project teams have a balance of qualifications and experience, as technology projects can be high risk and require people skilled in advanced technology, change management, project management and contract management.

Finally, Worrall said teams should always be aware of lessons from previous projects so they can identify and act on problems and avoid repeating the same mistakes.

“Cancellation can be appropriate, but it needs to be at the right time before significant losses accumulate, and senior leaders should feel empowered to consider this option when it is in the best interests of the state,” he wrote.

“If agencies repeat past practices, we can expect a significant proportion of Queensland’s technology projects to cost more and be delivered late or not at all.”


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