Ultranet: former VIC deputy secretary Darrell Fraser charged

By David Donaldson

May 22, 2018

Former deputy secretary at the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development Darrell Fraser has been charged over his role in the failed software project Ultranet.

Fraser has been charged by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission with five counts of obtaining property by deception and one count of misconduct in public office.

Two others have also been charged with obtaining property by deception: Denis MacKenzie, former managing director of CSG, the publically listed company awarded the Ultranet contract, and Julie-Ann Kerin, the company’s current CEO.

An inquiry by IBAC found the education department’s project to create the Ultranet software system had cost the state up to $240 million, though the precise figure could not be discerned. It was abandoned in 2014 after a critical audit.

Addressing the charges against Kerin, CSG said in a statement to the ASX that the charges allege the department and its officers “were deceived in 2011 about the true nature and purpose” of the project. “No charges have been brought against CSG,” it added.

“CSG fully supports the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer in the defence of the charges.”

IBAC’s report, published in January 2017, identified behaviours by various individuals including the inappropriate receipt of hospitality and travel; improper communications intended to influence the tender process; and a likely attempt to influence the tender outcome by ‘stacking’ an evaluation panel. IBAC also found decisions contrary to proper procurement process, in particular a singular preference for CSG.

The IBAC report served as an integrity wake-up call for the Victorian Public Sector, prompting the Department of Education and Training to make a range of integrity reforms including stronger, more centralised controls over procurement, conflicts of interest and IT.

“Our public education system provides immeasurable value to Victoria’s children and young people, and the economic and social prosperity of our state,” said DET Secretary Gill Callister in response to the 2016 IBAC hearings.

“As such, we must uphold the highest ethical standards and ensure that as stewards of public education, our conduct consistently meets the public’s expectations of integrity.”

The three have been summoned to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on 3 July.

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