Wednesday, February 01, 2017

This Has To Be Worst Saga Of Government IT Program Failure I Have Ever Heard Of! Just Dreadful.

This article appeared last week.

IBAC finds disastrous Ultranet project for schools was a 'corrupt' shambles

Henrietta Cook, Benjamin Preiss, Timna Jacks
Published: January 27, 2017 - 5:10PM
Education Department officials wasted up to $240 million of taxpayers' money during a corrupt tender process for a school IT project, Victoria's anti-corruption watchdog has concluded.
The officials could now faces criminal charges over the "appalling waste" following a lengthy investigation by the Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission.
The Ultranet project promised to deliver an online platform that connected teachers, parents and students, but was plagued by technical issues and rarely used after its rollout by the former state Labor government in 2010.
In a long-awaited report tabled in state parliament on Friday, IBAC found that department officials purchased shares in CSG – the company awarded the Ultranet project – influenced the tender process and accepted inappropriate gifts from suppliers including flights and lavish dinners.
"The willingness of some senior leaders in the department to deceive has resulted in the waste of millions of dollars of public money," the report said.
It follows revelations by Fairfax Media in 2014 that four senior senior education department officials bought shares or took jobs with CSG.
Operation Dunham, an IBAC investigation into the alleged misconduct, found that former regional director John Allman purchased shares in CSG knowing it would likely win the lucrative contract.
His colleague, former regional director Ron Lake, bought $100,000 in CSG shares while on the Ultranet board. Former regional director Wayne Craig and his wife purchased 6000 CSG shares after the company won the contract.
"The behaviour suggests that at least some used confidential information to which they were exposed in the course of their work for private gain," the report said.
The man who spearheaded the Ultranet project, former deputy secretary Darrell Fraser, used $1 million of department money to "corruptly inject funds into CSG to ensure it had sufficient cash flow to properly deliver the Ultranet project", IBAC found. 
It said Mr Fraser – a former principal at Glen Waverley Secondary College – was "instrumental in manipulating procurement processes to ensure the Ultranet contract was awarded to the CSG/Oracle consortium – companies with whom he had a longstanding relationship".
Lots more here:
There are some even more alarming details here:

Corruption claims over failed $240m Ultranet project

Inquiry finds evidence of process corruption, improper diversion of funds, conflict of interest and mismanagement
George Nott (Computerworld) 27 January, 2017 15:00
The launch was extravagant. Dancers and singers were hired to perform a specially choreographed musical number. A bespoke stage was constructed to look like a giant laptop. Kindles and iPads were given away as spot prizes.
A branded bus ferried then Victorian education minister Browyn Pike and special guests to the ‘Big Day Out’ event at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Today, they would launch Ultranet, a virtual learning portal that promised to ‘revolutionise learning’ for every Victorian school pupil.
Poised at their computers in schools across the state, teachers readied themselves to log-on to the system as it went live. It crashed. The million-dollar event was a damp squib. And so was Ultranet.
Three years later, in 2013, plagued by limited functionality and declining student take-up from an already pitiful base of 10 per cent, the Ultranet project was abandoned. Although the exact cost is unknown, estimates go as high as $240 million.
Today Victoria’s Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) said its investigation into the project had “exposed a range of improper actions and behaviours by senior departmental staff that effectively corrupted the tender process.”
“Central to many of the allegations examined”, the report released by IBAC today says, is former teacher turned senior state politician Darrell Fraser who one person told IBAC “broke every f---ing rule in the book”.
Serious concerns
The anti-corruption agency’s report was tabled in state parliament today. It accuses the former education department official and other senior departmental staff of making decisions that were “contrary to the proper procurement process”. These decisions resulted in a preference for systems integrator CSG “despite serious concerns about its commercial credentials in the relevant area” and an Oracle-based solution.
“Mr Fraser was instrumental in manipulating procurement processes to ensure the Ultranet contract was awarded to the CSG/Oracle consortium – companies with whom he had a longstanding relationship,” the report says.
Lots more here:
This all reads rather like a novel rather than a Government report that raises incompetence, corruption, fund diversion, conflicts of interest and even worse Ministerial Stupidity in managing a significant IT project.
Government IT of all forms really needs to have its own skilled supervision body to keep the whole delivery of these critical services on the rails. A sort of IT ICAC if you will!
David.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Never you mind David I think you just spotted the next job for Tim (I'll fix IT) Kelsey.

On a more serious note there perhaps should be a review of new senior appointments and their close proximity to or affiliantions/financial interests in vendors and financial benefactors of whatever industry sector they are involved in, it is starting to seem corruption and temptation are rife.