Sunday, December 09, 2012

NEHTA Responds To Questions On Notice From The Recent Senate Estimates Committee. A Few Interesting Tit-bits.

Supplementary Senate Estimates were held Oct 17-19, 2012. The deadline for a response to the Questions that were placed on notice was December 7, 2012.
Here is the link to the answers provided by NETA
Here is what we were told:


National e-Health Transition Authority (NeHTA)
Budget Estimates 2012-13 October
OUTCOME 10.2: e-Health
Question: 1
Topic: Budget
Senator Boyce asked:
What is the complete budget for NEHTA for 2012/2013?
In regard to the COAG work program, NEHTA’s members have agreed to provide funding to NEHTA for 2012-13 of $66.85m. NEHTA also has carried over COAG funds of $28.40m. In addition to this, DOHA has funded NEHTA $4.5m to perform some ongoing operational support services. NEHTA expects to earn interest on its invested funds of approximately $3m.
In regard to the PCEHR Managing Agent responsibilities, as contracted to DOHA, NEHTA has approximately $63.14m in carried forward funds against future commitments.
Question: 6
Topic: IBM Contract
Senator Boyce asked:
It has been announced that the contract signed with IBM to complete the NASH as now been terminated. Did that contract contain penalty provisions for non-delivery? How much money has IBM already been paid? What percentage of the contract price will be lost or written off as a result of the contract termination.
The subject matter of the contract termination between IBM, NEHTA is currently under legal process and privilege applies.
Question: 7
Topic: NASH
Senator Boyce asked:
At the time the IBM contract was signed it was claimed by both NEHTA and DOHA that no one internally had the capacity to build a secure NASH but now with the termination of the IBM contract the work is now being done internally. It’s claimed that this ‘internal capability’ was not realised at the time. This sounds at the very least to be a costly error of judgement. Could you provide all internal documents that go to the reasons why IBM was chosen and why in your initial assessment your own internal teams lacked the capacity to build the NASH?
The documentation related to IBM, and the other unsuccessful bidders as requested is commercial-in-confidence and NEHTA is unable to provide it due to legal and commercial sensitivities.
It is now over 2 years since the NASH tender was released and both technology and the market have moved significantly over this time. This has provided NEHTA further opportunity to provide greater value add to the market with a fit for purpose product.
Question: 8
Topic: NASH
Senator Boyce asked:
What has changed in regard to their capacity from the time the IBM contract was signed and now? Can you please provide documentary proof to support your response?
The failure by IBM to deliver provided NEHTA with the opportunity to re-examine what was currently available.
Industry capabilities were not fully established when the contract was first let, but have been built and enhanced locally into secure, capable services in the meantime. The DHS solution has been able to leverage off the capability, together with their considerable technical capacity to offer a NASH solution.
Question: 9
Topic: NASH
Senator Boyce asked:
When will the NASH now be delivered?
A NASH certificate is available for healthcare organisations and individuals to support access to the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (eHealth Record) system and healthcare organisational certificates for Secure Message Delivery (SMD) via a compliant SMD product will be available now.
Further NASH functionality will progressively become available as required.
Question: 20
Topic: Hire Cars
Senator Boyce asked:
Could NEHTA provide details of total expenditure on hire cars in the last 12 months for all staff, contractors and clients?
Expenditure on hire cars is not differentiated within NEHTA’s book of accounts and is consolidated into ground transport costs. All ground transport costs have been incurred in accordance with the relevant NEHTA travel and expenditure policies and procedural guidelines. NEHTA’s policies allow for Hire Cars to be used from time to time where the circumstances dictate. Such circumstances include where other forms of ground transport are unreliable, where cost differences are minimal or productivity or confidentiality considerations apply.
Question: 21
Topic: Hire Cars
Senator Boyce asked:
Could NEHTA provide details of all hire car expenses occurring in Sydney for NEHTA staff in the last 12 months? That should include cost per trip, pick-up and set down details, dates of travel and passenger identification.
Refer to answer 20
----- End Responses.
So what we learn is that in 2012/13 NEHTA plans to spend of the order of $66.85m + $24.8m + $4.5m + $3.0m = $99.15m in operational funding.
This compares with $146M last year according to the recently released annual report.
PCEHR Outgoings are seen as being $63.14M for the year.
This is way down from the expenditure on the PCEHR to June 30, 2012 which was close to $500M over 2 years.
This is all consistent with a loss of close to ½ of NEHTA’s total headcount since June 30, 2012.
NEHTA seems to be saying that in two years technology has changed so NASH has had to be re-done and IBM has still not had resolution of the discussions.
I wonder what this radically new technology approach is? Suggestions welcome. Prima face it sounds like nonsense to me...
Hire Cars.
Good stonewalling effort!
Related but different we have an interesting report from the Department of Human Services.
Here is the direct link:
The topic is DHS Computer Outages. It seems there were 137 ICT Reliability Outages in the year to September 30, 2012. No wonder there are the odd problems with the HI Service.
Any comments on all this welcome.


Anonymous said...

How on earth does NEHTA and DOHA get away with this utter claptrap? Are they sleeping very comfortably at night?

Some suggested follow-up questions to these “Answers” to Questions on Notice, for future Senates Estimates hearings:


Can NEHTA state "specifically what” and “how exactly” has the "technology and the market have moved significantly over this time" with respect to the NASH Service and PKI Services/Technology in particular? What specifically has changed in the TWO YEARS since the NASH Tender was solicited that now makes that whole expensive exercise of IBM NASH Services at Taxpayers expense redundant?


What “specific” Industry capabilities are now built and enhanced locally that were “not fully established” when the contract was first let TWO YEARS ago? Who has “paid” and how have they “paid” for these newly available “industry capabilities” to be now locally enhanced and available? What initiative or project has made these capabilities now available, and who has funded this project/initiative? What exact “capability” is the DHS Solution leveraging off of, and who owns, funds and operates it?

Did NEHTA have “visibility” of this project/initiative TWO YEARS ago? Is there a record from TWO YEARS ago recording NEHTA’s assessment of this project/initiative and the reasoning behind NEHTA’s decision to avoid this project/initiative and decide to solicit a Tender and award this Tender to IBM TWO YEARS ago? Will NEHTA publish to Senates Estimates its documented due diligence records for how this NASH Tender was conducted and how the responses were scored and assessed resulting in IBM being awarded the contract TWO YEARS ago?


If ”Expenditure on hire cars is not differentiated within NEHTA’s book of accounts and is consolidated into ground transport costs”, how does NEHTA Management then audit, report and control to ensure that ”All ground transport costs have been incurred in accordance with the relevant NEHTA travel and expenditure policies and procedural guidelines”? How is NEHTA’s Management ensuring that travel and expenditure policies are not being abused by “staff, contractors and clients”, and what evidence is NEHTA able to produce to prove no expense abuses are occurring at taxpayers expense?

Note: The question pertains to NEHTA Management’s competence and effectiveness in controlling and auditing a common expense abuse behaviour, as the present investigation into the Hon. Speaker’s Taxi Voucher expense anomalies demonstrates, and NEHTA’s response gives no clarity or confidence it is guarding and managing Taxpayer funds adequately or effectively.


”Refer to answer 20”

Come on NEHTA, give us a break! Answer#20 doesn’t answer Question#21. If the Auditor General in some (hopefully!) future commissioned audit of NEHTA’s management accounts and handling of Taxpayers funds asked the same question as Question#21, is NEHTA really going to respond with Answer#20?

Anonymous said...

The contempt and conceit NEHTA are demonstrating in treating serious questions of accountability from Senator Boyce is appalling! NEHTA should effectively be able to ”provide details of all hire car expenses occurring in Sydney for NEHTA staff in the last 12 months? That should include cost per trip, pick-up and set down details, dates of travel and passenger identification.” if its expense account recording and auditing systems are competently established and operated. Otherwise, effectively “accounting for” and “controlling” the expense and management of Taxpayers funds becomes a matter of questionable management practices with substantial risk of abuse by “staff, contractors and clients” with no effective means for traceability and auditability of Taxpayer funds consumed by NEHTA. If NEHTA are unable to respond to this request routinely, then an audit of this organisation cannot come soon enough. If it can’t respond to this request “routinely”, then NEHTA’s statement and claim that ”All ground transport costs have been incurred in accordance with the relevant NEHTA travel and expenditure policies and procedural guidelines” should be rejected and dismissed unequivocally as they are unable to substantiate it.

If the responses provided by NEHTA here are deemed acceptable by the Senators attempting to hold this organisation to account, no wonder they behave as-if answerable to no-one and accountable to no-one and treat the Taxpayer funds channelled to them through COAG and directly from DOHA with complete disrespect and what appears to be utter contempt. If this cloud has any silver lining at all it is the amount of funds they are getting access to to mistreat and abuse is “apparently” being reduced substantially, and the only way this can be improved upon is if it’s reduced to zero, or better yet, they’re made to repay (with interest) the funding they’ve squandered and abused over their seven “poorly performing” years existence.

Anonymous said...

the term "utter bullshit" comes to mind....I am SO glad I minimise my tax (a la the late Mr Packer) so I am not funding this pack of incompetent imbeciles!

Anonymous said...

Corrupt is the only word which accurately describes NeHTA behaviour; the Senior Management are the instigators and the Board is responsible.

Anonymous said...

Corrupt is correct, but nothing can be done about it. The shareholders will remain silent because they are the Directors. The Regulators will remain silent because no complaints have been lodged.

Anonymous said...

Apart from this BLOG, where exactly does anyone "lodge a complaint"?

Despite numerous "suggestions" for hard questions to be tabled at Senates Estimates hearings on this BLOG, the "hard questions" NEVER seem to get tabled?

Even though the Senates Estimates transcript implies DOHA and NEHTA "senior management" actually read this BLOG.

Other suggested channels to lodge formal complaints through are most welcomed?

Then the "regulators" can have at it.

Anonymous said...

The Regulators are powerless to do anything; so too the Senate Estimates. The long tortuous history makes it virtually impossible to document the case for corruption. This leads therefore to a classic Catch 22 with a stalemate all round. Consequently, as everyone is either powerless or conflicted, there will be more of the same for the foreseeable future.

Anonymous said...

So in effect the entire process is corrupt because there is no accountability at any level which leads to an opaque organisation acting as a law unto itself for which "the Regulators are powerless to do anything" to rectify the situation.

Anonymous said...

If the entire process is corrupt, as 12/17/2012 11:44:00 PM claims, then it is somewhat akin to a massive fraud perpetrated nationally on all Australians - about which, as 12/17/2012 04:54:00 PM concludes, the Regulators and others are powerless to do anything.

Anonymous said...

They are from the government and they are here to help, those are worrying words and their actions would suggest Ronald Reagon was correct!

Bernard Robertson-Dunn said...

I'd bet quite a lot of money on the process (or any individual) not being corrupt. I doubt that there have been any actions that contravene the FMA or CAC acts, but that's because these acts only deal with financial accountability.

That doesn't mean it is a miserable failure and raise moral and ethical issues, but these are not generally against the law.

It all reminds me of the quality movement where the process had to be efficient and repeatable. Unfortunately, if the objective was to make high quality concrete life jackets, then you could get quality certification and boast that you made the best concrete life jackets. The fact that concrete life jackets are worse than useless (without one, you might survive; with one - you drown) was not relevant.

The FMA and CAC acts only look at the process of spending government money, not the outcome.

As it happens, there is a review of the FMA and CAC acts, it's called the Commonwealth Financial Accountability Review (CFAR).

CFAR is an important part of the Australian Government’s Better Government agenda. The agenda covers a range of activities to improve delivery of government services, policies and programs to upgrade the public management framework.

The purpose of CFAR is to analyse the Commonwealth financial framework from first principles and consider options to ensure the framework supports high quality resource management.

The release of the Discussion Paper Is Less More? Towards Better Commonwealth Performance is a crucial step in updating the financial management framework.

The discussion paper:
Comments closed in June 2012

Now they are encouraging people to comment on a position paper:
Comments open until 18 February.

I think that the PCEHR and eHealth in general are good examples of following all the rules when spending government money but actually wasting it.

Postings on the site of that "infamous David More, the well-known blogger" is one thing, making a submission to a formal review is another, potentially more productive, avenue.

Go for it, and a Merry Christmas to all David's readers.

Anonymous said...

Re Q20&21: NEHTA have previously answered about taxis in a similar evasive manner. How can NEHTA state unequivocally that expenses are in line with policies if they don't have the detail requested in Q21?