Tuesday, March 18, 2014
I Wonder How Much Of This Will Turn Out To Be A Real Problem. Always Hard To Know When Politics Gets Involved.
This appeared a few days ago.
The South Australian opposition has backed its pre-election promise of a review into eHealth programs, making a series of explosive and damaging allegations about loose procurement, mismanagement and secrecy within the SA Government’s largest organisation.
Shadow health minister Rob Lucas says that he has been the recipient of an “overwhelming” number of reports from concerned whistleblowers that still work within the health department and its IT industry partners.
The first of his claims is that the department took a lax approach to procurement probity.
Late last year, Lucas told parliament that an employee of a major US computing vendor was hired by SA Health on a three month maternity leave contract. He alleges the contractor managed a periodic desktop refresh tender process and purchased 30,000 devices off the state’s client computing and server equipment panel. The vendor in question was one of the major bidders for the deal.
“The concern that has been raised, not just with me but also with very senior managers in SA Health, is that this particular person will have had access to very sensitive competitor pricing information within SA Health, as well as other commercially sensitive information about the structure and nature of tenders from competitor companies,” Lucas warned.
“When that person returns to their particular company, they will return armed with that information which obviously places them in a very advantageous position.”
According to the MP’s sources, concerns were raised about this perceived conflict of interest by other staff members, but the concerns were subsequently ignored.
Lucas received another complaint about the tender process behind SA Health’s $30 million Enterprise System for Medical Imaging (ESMI), which alleged an inappropriately close relationship between a senior official involved in the procurement and one of the tendering companies.
He detailed to parliament a number of text messages sent by the official, alerting a friend that their bid was “not on the radar” of the evaluating panel, suggesting that they would have to lift their performance.
Again, he claimed, there is no evidence that complaints made to the relevant probity director have been followed-up.
Lucas believes his sources are “looking for a voice in terms of expressing their concerns”.
“They have raised the issues within SA Health, in some cases for nearly two years, only to run into a brick wall or no response from this minister or and previous ministers and senior executives within SA Health.
“When all else is lot, some of these people have taken the brave step of raising the issues with members of parliament... to try to have their concerns listened to,” he said.
Lucas has not named any of the sources or people whose behaviour he claims to be concerned about.
When asked if he would apologise to SA Health and health minister Jack Snelling if a review showed the claims to be unsubstantiated, he told iTnews that he is “confident in the information” he has been provided with. He added that he will be “the first to concede that in this sort of field where there can be differing points of view on the same case”.
“But I have had 30 years in parliament, 11 of those as a minister. I think this sort of experience gives you some level of expertise in assessing these sorts of claims,” he argued.
Lots more here:
To me the issue here is to understand how much in election eve grandstanding and how much reflects an actual problem.
With the SA Election seemingly so close (at the time of writing) it will be interesting to see what will happen and if this will actually go any further.
Given the good things that we have all heard about SA Health IT recently it might be that this is all a political storm in a teacup!
Time will tell.
Posted by Dr David More MB PhD FACHI at Tuesday, March 18, 2014