Queensland government denies second imminent payroll system debacle

A leaked report has revealed that a A$35 million investment in the new applications has so far delivered nothing and is months behind schedule.

Queensland’s Labor government has denied presiding over a second payroll IT system debacle, after a report revealed that a A$35 million investment had so far delivered nothing and was months behind schedule.

A confidential report obtained by the Australian state’s The Courier-Mail newspaper revealed that the A$100 million project to introduce new HR and payroll systems for the Queensland Ambulance Service, Fire and Emergency and Corrective Services requires urgent intervention.

“Without substantial intervention, there should be low confidence that the program will deliver without additional time and budget being allocated,” the review, which was written by management consultancy PwC, stated.

The situation is already being compared to Labor’s Health department payroll fiasco, which saw a A$60 million contract end up costing a final A$1.3 million and resulted in thousands of workers being underpaid or not paid at all.

The previous Queensland government had budgeted A$100 million in September 2012 to replace the same outdated payroll applications that were swapped out in the Health disaster, but as tenders lapsed during the election the contract did not end up being signed until January 2016. Further issues meant that the business case was not approved until June this year.

“This has contributed to the program’s ambiguity and lack of delivery progress,” the report said. “Stakeholders advised that for significant periods of time throughout the program’s history, they were unable to progress any deliverables due to uncertainty in government direction.”

As a result, a monthly burn rate of about A$700,000 “remained consistent”, it continued. Although A$35.1 million has already been spent, it has not been possible to link the investment to the scope of the initiative, the review added.

But Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk denied there would be a repeat of the Health system fiasco. She said that the rollout of the new payroll applications was taking place gradually and that half of the A$35.1 million figure cited had been spent by the former government.

But opposition leader Tim Nicholls denied that it was responsible for the bungle. “We made sure, before we moved from an old, tired system that Labor had ignored called the Lattice system, that we had in place proper arrangement, including the tender arrangements,” he said. “But that changed when the government changed and since then we have seen, as this report shows, two years of bungling and delays and incompetence.”