An upgrade to the Victorian parliament's computer system blew out by more than $1.6 million because of poor management, inadequately configured helpdesk software, and a lack of skills and experience within the IT unit.
In a report on the introduction of the Parlynet 2002 Project, auditor general Wayne Cameron found that the system was riddled with problems that IT staff "struggled to resolve on a timely basis".
The $3.46 million upgrade was rolled out in the parliamentary precinct and in 132 electorate offices across the state last November, but users immediately reported problems.
The report said there were problems with log-on times, delays in accessing electronic files, and with the system's security. Moreover, only limited training was provided to IT unit staff before the deployment of the IT upgrade and there was no training in relation to some key technology areas.
According to the report, the parliament’s IT manager left the organisation in June 2002 and his position was not filled until August of that year.
"During that period, significant decisions about the system requirements and the project were made, including selection of the contractor, the choice of the hardware to be used and finalisation of the detailed technical definition of the system," the report said.
It also said there was no clear plan to identify how to resolve remaining problems, which led to the project spiralling to $5.12 million.
"We estimate the cost of the Parlynet 2002 Project exceeded available funds by $1.664 million," the report found.
The report said that the "scope of the project was not clearly defined and the steering committee did not constrain the scope".
"Helpdesk calls were not addressed in a controlled and systematic basis due to inadequately configured helpdesk software, lack of problem prioritisation, insufficient resources, and no continued analysis and review of helpdesk clearances," the report found.
A number of the Victorian parliament's key IT systems were decentralised before the upgrade and operated by other business units.
As a result, the management and location of these facilities were outside the control of the IT unit, resulting in a lack of consistency in the management of IT operations and potential control risks.
Finally, the report recommended improving IT governance.
"For example, there is only one endorsed IT policy in place to guide the parliament’s IT activities and there are no business rules to limit the range of applications that may be loaded onto the system by users or to limit the number or types of add-on equipment (such as handheld electronic diaries) to be used. Consideration also needs to be given to whether the risks arising from the decentralisation of systems to areas outside the control of the IT unit are in the best interests of the organisation," the report found.