The Rann Government was wasting millions of taxpayers’ dollars through slack management of IT projects whilst at the same time cutting important services for disadvantaged families.
Evidence given today by senior executives from the Department for Families and Communities (DFC) to the Legislative Council Budget and Finance Committee confirmed there had been a $12 million blowout on another IT project in the department, Liberal MLC Rob Lucas said today.
“The Auditor General has previously reported that the Connected Client and Case Management (CCCM) project, originally approved at $2.2 million, had blown out to $10.6 million and that contrary to Treasurer’s Instructions there had been no business case proposal and there had been no approval from the Minister,” Mr Lucas said.
“Today, Joe Ullianich, DFC Director of Finance, told the Committee that the CCCM project had now blown out further to $13 million to $14 million.
“This is also the same department that wasted $5 million on another IT project called “Maintenance Works”, which didn’t work! In fact, the entire project had to be scrapped with nothing able to be salvaged and the entire $5 million budget wasted.”
Mr Lucas said that evidence to the today’s Committee also confirmed that $100,000 had been paid to former DFC CEO Sue Vardon in “termination payments”, even though Ms Vardon had stated she had brought forward her retirement date. Departmental executives maintained they had not seen the contract to establish whether this contract required any payment in the event a CEO retires early, but had relied on advice from the Department for the Premier and Cabinet.
Departmental executives also confirmed:
• Budget cuts announced prior to the Mid-Year Budget Review (MYBR) meant their budget had to be cut by $33 million per year by 2011-12 and staff numbers would be cut by 92 full-time equivalents (FTEs);
• In addition, the MYBR cuts meant there would be additional staff cuts over the 92 FTEs already planned – if DFC’s share of the 1,600 FTE cuts is 5-10 per cent, then the additional staff cuts would be 80 to 160 FTEs;
• The MYBR also meant further cuts per year in the 2012-13 year over the $33 million per year by 2011-12;
• DFC were already cutting services contrary to claims by the Rann Government e.g. DFC no longer employed youth workers to deliver the Special Programs for Youth Services, which provided special help for children under the Guardianship of the Minister or involved in the youth justice system;
• DFC had also reduced Anti-Poverty Services expenditure by reducing the provision of emergency funds to families in trouble; and,
• When Margaret Wagstaff was paid $80,000 to be a consultant to the Minister, the Minister only gave the DFC CEO one name to be appointed and paid for by the department.
“The clear message to the Rann Government should be to stop the millions of taxpayers’ dollars being wasted on IT project blowouts, consultants and questionable termination payments before important services and programs are considered for budget cuts,” Mr Lucas said.