The Rann Government had spent $5 million on an IT programme called “Maintenance Works” for the South Australia Housing Trust (SAHT) which did not work.
Senior executives from the Department for Families and Communities (DFC) giving evidence to the Legislative Council Budget and Finance Committee today confirmed that the SAHT had now scrapped and written off the total $5 million plus spent on the IT programme, “Maintenance Works”.
“DFC executives today also confirmed that consultant KPMG had been employed to see whether any of the project could be salvaged, but the decision had been taken to scrap the whole project and start again,” Liberal MLC Rob Lucas said today.
“When this issue was first raised last year at a meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee the Government said work was still being done on what could be salvaged from the IT project and that a final decision would be taken in mid-2008.
“This is a disgraceful waste of taxpayers’ money at a time when the department is struggling to meet many unmet needs in the community. For example, at a time when there are extraordinarily long waiting lists for Housing Trust accommodation the Government has cut grants to the Housing Trust by $5-6 million per year and yet $5 million on an IT project has just ‘gone up in smoke’!
“In other stunning evidence to the Budget and Finance Committee, DFC executives revealed that the average cost per child per year in emergency accommodation and care was $270,000. Executives also confirmed that the total cost spent on motel, hotel, bed and breakfast, serviced apartments and other, like emergency accommodation, in 2007-08 was over $16 million – up from over $14.7 million in 2006-07.
“Whilst this is obviously an important programme, there must be sensible ways of reducing the average cost per child down from $270,000 per year and reducing the total costs of $16 million per year.”
Mr Lucas said the Budget and Finance Committee had sought a detailed breakdown of the costs of managing this programme and also information on the average length of stay as well as the longest period any child was included in this programme.
In further developments, DFC executives today confirmed that the Treasurer bailed out the Department by ‘topping up’ their funding by $35 million per year in June 2007 and by another $18.7 million per year in the last quarter of 2007-08.
“There are undeniable pressures on the department; however, the Treasurer, Minister and departmental executives should be ensuring that taxpayers’ dollars are not being wasted on a $5 million IT programme that doesn’t work,” Mr Lucas said.