Sunday, May 26, 2013
I Missed These Being Published At Senate Estimates Web Site A Few Weeks Ago. Great Reading.
This article appeared a day or so ago.
Summary: IBM and the National E-Health Transition Authority have settled a dispute over the termination of a key AU$24 million contract.
Although it appeared bound for the courts, IBM and the National E-Health Transition Authority have settled a dispute over the termination of an AU$24 million contract for IBM to deliver an authentication service as part of the Australian government's billion-dollar e-health project.
In 2011, IBM was tasked to develop a system that would use public key infrastructure and secure tokens, such as smart cards, in order to provide an authenticated service. This is so that healthcare personnel and providers can exchange e-health information, including referrals, prescriptions, and personally controlled electronic health records (PCEHRs).
It was part of the Australian government's initial AU$466.7 million investment in e-health record systems that came online in July 2012.
The IBM National Authentication Service for Health (NASH) system was due to be delivered by June 30, 2012, however NEHTA and IBM confirmed in October last year that the contract had been terminated and it was an "ongoing legal matter".
In the meantime, the government implemented an interim NASH system.
While the IBM and NEHTA dispute appeared to be bound for the courts, in a response to Questions on Notice provided to Liberal Senator Sue Boyce in April, the NEHTA confirmed that it had settled with IBM.
"NEHTA and IBM Australia have reached by mutual agreement a conclusion to their discussions regarding the termination of the National Authentication Service for Health (NASH) Design & Build and Operate contracts. The terms of that agreement are confidential," NEHTA said.
This prompted me to go back to the Senate Estimates site.
There are 2 links:
This one says that NEHTA have given up hire cars after being questioned about their use.
More relevant is this one where we see Senator Boyce has almost had to pull teeth to get what has been going on.
Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs
QUESTIONS ON NOTICE
Additional Budget Estimates
Subject Outcome: E-Health 10.2
Issue: Claims of Privilege
Name of Senator: Sue Boyce
In the last session of estimates in October last year we submitted a number of questions related to E-Health and in particular its management by NEHTA.
We had asked a series of questions in regard to the contract entered into with IBM in regard to the completion of the NASH, a contract that was terminated by NEHTA.
NEHTA’s response to one key question, Question 6, essentially was to say and I quote; ” The subject matter of the contract termination between IBM, NEHTA is currently under legal process and privilege applies.”
We asked whether the terminated contract contained penalty clauses for non-delivery. How much had IBM already been paid under the terms of that contract and what percentage of that contract price will be written off or lost as a result of the contract termination.
1. Can you tell me what “legal process” between IBM and NEHTA is currently underway in regard to this contract?
NEHTA and IBM Australia have reached by mutual agreement a conclusion to their discussions regarding the termination of the National Authentication Service for Health (NASH) Design & Build and Operate contracts. The terms of that agreement are confidential.
2. In what way are the terms of the question I have just quoted subject to the strict legal definitions of privilege?
The questions previously asked went to the subject of legal advice which NEHTA received about termination of the contract and the discussions it was having with IBM at the time. In order to protect the privilege in that advice, NEHTA needed to ensure that its actions, including answers to your questions, did not waive that privilege.
The discussions which were occurring between NEHTA and IBM at the time of your questions were also confidential and subject to the privilege in aid of settlement. NEHTA needed, and continues to need, to ensure that it does not breach its confidentiality obligations.
As noted above, the terms of the final agreement with IBM are confidential. As such, the parties are bound, under contract law, to keep the terms confidential.
3. Who provided that advice regarding our questions and the issue of privilege and can we obtain a copy of it?
NEHTA obtained advice from its external lawyers regarding termination of the contract with IBM. That advice is protected by legal professional privilege and NEHTA will not waive its rights to that protection. NEHTA is concerned not to breach any confidentiality obligations it has, which may occur if privilege in the advice were waived.
4. What considerations were made re the balance between your notion of privilege and the public’s right to know how you are managing the expenditure of over 1 billion dollars of taxpayers money?
NEHTA takes very seriously its management of the implementation of e-Health in Australia, and the costs involved in that. It acknowledges that the public has an interest in how taxpayer dollars are spent.
Nevertheless, for NEHTA to achieve the best outcomes for taxpayers in relation to legal matters arising in the course of its operations, it needs to be able to access full and frank legal advice. Open disclosure of the advice which NEHTA received about termination of the contract and its discussions with IBM may have jeopardised those discussions and the ultimate agreement with IBM.
----- End Response
Here is the link:
Only one question - NEHTA is spending public money so now it is settled why can’t we - the public - understand what has been done, what lessons have been learnt and work out just who is to blame for this waste - and it is clear that is what this is - of money.
NEHTA get a gold star for obfuscation and cover up!
Posted by Dr David More MB PhD FACHI at Sunday, May 26, 2013