Blind spots have been uncovered in Queensland’s information and communication technology procurement procedures, according to a new report by the state’s Auditor-General.
A report by the Queensland Audit Office, tabled in Parliament on 27 September, has revealed that issues with the state’s procurement procedures have left departmental managers without enough data or the right tools to effectively inform strategic procurement decisions.
The audit found that the state’s Department of Science, Information technology, and Innovation (DSITI), which is charged with overseeing the state government’s information and communication technology procurement, could not effectively monitor what agencies spend outside of their supply arrangements.
This is because, the report said, under the state’s procurement strategy, government departments do not record spend against whole-of-government supply arrangements in their finance systems.
Instead, the DSITI has to rely on supplier data to know how much agencies have used their supply arrangements. But this data does not tell them how much off-contract spend occurs, the report suggested.
The findings come as part of the Queensland Audit Office’s investigation into whether the state’s government departments are enabling and achieving ‘value-for-money’ procurement outcomes through effective strategic procurement.
At the heart of the audit’s investigation is the role played by the state’s Procurement Transformation Division (PTD), which was created in 2013, under the leadership of then state premier, Campbell Newman, and its five-year Procurement Transformation Program (PTP).
According to the report, the government expected that the PTP would lead and oversee the realisation of an estimated $600 million to $1.3 billion in procurement benefits across all government agencies by June 2018.
However, the Queensland Audit Office has revealed that the cost savings to date have fallen short of expectations.
“The PTD and government departments have not delivered on the significant financial benefits they expected,” the report stated.
“The strong leadership needed and the capabilities required in data, systems, and of people, are not yet sufficient. They are either missing or are not working as well as they could.
“Most departmental managers do not have the data or the tools they need to inform their strategic procurement decisions. This is a fundamental factor that needs to be urgently addressed.
“The PTD created datasets in an attempt to use data to analyse opportunities to realise benefits. We found these had material errors that made them of little practical use for whole-of-government or departmental procurement decisions,” it said.
One of the outcomes of this has been that, during 2013-14, the DSITI overstated its cash saving claims under the program by $30,000. Other departments overstated savings by more than $1 million.
For its part, the DSITI has said that looks forward to working with the Queensland Audit Office and the Office of the Chief Advisor – Procurement in the development of appropriate data analytic tools to support procurement at both ICT category management and departmental levels.