The Victorian government “is no doubt a little bit shy when it comes to IT projects”, says the state Minister for Innovation, Business and Trade Philip Dalidakis.
“We have suffered under previous governments, whether they are Liberal or Labor governments,” due to problems with IT procurement, cost overruns “and not getting it right”, he told an Australian Information Industry Association event last week.
Extending an invitation to the IT industry representatives present to work with the Victorian government to encourage to improve and “not be scornful of our past”, Dalidakis was optimistic about the future.
“We need to double down on our IT investments. We need to continually look at moving to the cloud as quickly as we can. We need to invest more in cyber security across all of our agencies. We need to make sure our systems are robust and delivering what we need,” he said.
“We need to ensure that Victoria once again reclaims its mantle as leading Australia in terms of its IT implementation and its focus.”
Victoria has earned a reputation for high-profile IT stuff-ups.
A 2011 Ombudsman’s report found that technology projects are “often poorly managed and failures are common”. Melbourne’s myki public transport ticketing system took more than four times as long to deliver than planned and will likely run $550 million over the original $1 billion budget. A 2016-17 corruption inquiry found hundreds of millions of dollars had been wasted on an Education Department online platform.
But the minister, who previously worked Deloitte, argues the problem is not unique to government.
“We are not alone. As my own experience in the private sector tells me, the private sector is every bit as bad at IT procurement as government has been. The difference of course in that is the shareholder in the private sector wears that, as distinct from the taxpayer in the public sector.”
Better technology will make all sorts of services available, he suggested — from being able to check which of the schools in your area have the lowest class sizes to being able to see which hospitals are busiest in real time “so that my child doesn’t have to wait for three hours before they’re going to be seen.”
“These are all important pieces of information that opening up our datasets can provide. It’s not something I’m scared of, it’s not something you should be scared of, but for people that I work with who don’t necessarily understand the technology, it is certainly something that they are still scared of,” he said.