Victoria’s $1 billion technology spend under scrutiny


The Victorian Auditor-General’s Office is due to table its second report to Parliament examining the government’s annual $1 billion ICT procurement program.

The Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) is taking a closer look at the Victorian government’s annual $1 billion ICT procurement program with a second audit report due to be tabled in Parliament next month 

The next phase of this audit report establishes whether public sector agencies and entities are on track with the planning, management and roll-out of selected or high-profile ICT projects. Overall project delivery timelines, cost control, key benefits, and governance arrangements are under scrutiny.

The VGAO’s auditing effort is supported by a “Digital Dashboard Review.” This dashboard tracks agencies’ report-cards and performance benchmarks. More intuitive reporting tools offer a bird’s-eye view of key metrics, performance benchmarks, and projects that need closer attention.

This March’s audit follows an earlier report to Parliament that identified weaknesses around ICT procurement, project delivery and transparent reporting. This VGAO report examined whether agencies and entities had appropriately planned, managed and implemented selected ICT projects. 

Among the concerns, the VAGO warned that some organisations could not demonstrate tangible and timely benefits from their ICT spend. “They are also, in general, unable to comprehensively report actual ICT expenditure, or the status of projects.”

Transparency matters

There was difficulty providing basic information around ICT planning and overall spend. “This raises concerns about the current level of scrutiny applied to the status and performance of ICT projects.”

Previous audits identified continued weaknesses around ICT project planning and delivery. This had continued “unabated,” the VAGO noted. Among the concerns, there were no central data-gathering, monitoring or reporting mechanisms involving organisations’ forward-planning and investments in technology. 

Some agencies acknowledged they could not share complete information on all the requested cost components. Reasons for this lack of transparency included decentralised ICT management, inter-agency mergers or key staff moving onto other roles.

Among the reforms, the VGAO has canvassed “strategic leadership and effective guidance to Victorian agencies and entities.” This incorporates more openly monitoring information and communications technology expenditure. 

The goal is to develop an “appropriate, consistent and mandatory monitoring and disclosure framework.” Moreover, publicly-available reports will help clarify ICT procurement, technologies-of-choice and the investment agenda.