30/06/2014 - 18:54

Inadequate Fiona Stanley management cost $6m

30/06/2014 - 18:54

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An investigation by the auditor general has found that the WA Department of Health wasted $6 million of taxpayer funds through inadequate management of information technology projects at the Fiona Stanley Hospital.

An investigation by the auditor general has found that the WA Department of Health wasted $6 million of taxpayer funds through inadequate management of information technology projects at the Fiona Stanley Hospital

Delays in implementing information technology and communications systems have already contributed to the hospital's opening date being set back six months, to October this year.

Now, an investigation by the auditor general has thrown light on the management of this and similar projects.

Auditor general Colin Murphy investigated the stalled delivery of the Identity Access Management component of the hospital's planned integrated IT infrastructure, which had already cost taxpayers $6 million before it was canned late last year.

The system was intended to give Fiona Stanley Hospital staff access to computer systems and hospital buildings, and was expected to cost $9.2 million in total.

Mr Murphy's report has revealed the Health Information Network, which is the centralised body overseeing the department of health's IT infrastructure, failed significantly in its management of the project.

Mr Murphy found the tender process was inadequate, project planning and governance was deficient, and that issues with the system's implementation weren't raised with appropriate levels of management soon enough to rectify problems.

When management did become aware of problems, the project was shut down because “key deliverables” were not evident.

That decision was made in October 2013 when 75 per cent of the budget for the system had already been spent and prompted the acting director general of health to approach the auditor general seeking an investigation.

The decision to close the project means automated identity access will not be in operation when the hospital opens.

Mr Murphy said the project was an example of why ICT projects often ran overtime and over budget.

“While I compliment the acting director general of health for requesting this audit, I was concerned about the excessive delays and that the costs to date may realise no benefit,” he said.

“As I have highlighted in the past, agencies often have difficulty in successfully delivering ICT projects, and this report contains some very important lessons for all agencies.

“Unless we get better at bringing in ICT projects on time and budget, the state will continue to spend millions more than necessary.”

It is estimated the Department of Health has spent $95million on ICT projects for the Fiona Stanley Hospital over the past three years.

In a response to the auditor general's investigation, the department agreed with his finding that management had been lax.

To rectify the issue, the department has created a chief procurement officer role within WA Health and other key management roles, as well as instigating procurement training and education.

The department is also considering whether the idendity access management system is necessary for the Fiona Stanley Hospital project and, thus, whether to pursue its implementation.

BT Australasia has been contracted to deliver key non-clinical ICT services at Fiona Stanley on behalf of Serco – which the Department of Health charged with procuring and managing services for the hospital in a $4,3 billion contract, which, at the time, included an electronic patient records system.

However, earlier this year Health Minister Kim Hames revealed Serco would not be responsible for some services, including procuring the patient records system.

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