Liberal Member of the Legislative Council, Rob Lucas, said today’s evidence given to the Legislative Council’s Budget and Finance Committee had revealed that the Housing Minister Jay Weatherill had wasted up to $5 million on an information technology (IT) project which after five years still wasn’t working.
“It is unbelievable that last week Mr Weatherill was trying to cut $200,000 in disability equipment funding whilst at the same time he is wasting up to $5 million on a disastrous IT project,” Mr Lucas said.
“Clearly, people with disabilities were being targeted by the Minister to help fund the Minister’s incompetence or negligence in managing this IT project.”
Mr Peter Smith, Deputy Chief Executive of the Department for Families and Communities, confirmed today that the Department had already spent about $5 million on the ‘Maintenance Works’ IT project in Housing SA. Mr Smith also confirmed this project had started back in 2003 with a budget of $2 million and this had now blown out to about $5 million.
Information provided to the Liberal Party indicates that in mid-2007 there was so much concern about the four years old project that consultant KPMG was brought in to look at which options were available to fix the mess.
“I have been informed that KPMG concluded the project was unsalvageable and the Department should start again having clearly wasted millions of taxpayer dollars on a failed IT project,” Mr Lucas said.
Mr Smith confirmed to the Committee that KPMG had been brought in and that the project was now still “suspended” awaiting a final decision, possibly in May 2008. Mr Smith did confirm the Minister was keen to see what could be salvaged from the project.
Senior Departmental sources have claimed that the Housing Trust Board made a decision to accept KPMG’s recommendation to scrap the project, but that this decision had been changed later to “suspend” the project.
“Mr Smith, who is a member of the Board, advised the Budget and Finance Committee he would need to check the accuracy of that claim and undertook to provide a written answer to the Committee.
“This is a scandal of major proportions and is obviously another ‘bad day at the office’ for Mr Weatherill. The disability sector and other sectors being targeted for cutbacks will be furious when they realise they are being asked to pay for the mistakes of Minister Weatherill and his Department.”