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Qld PSA payroll overhaul needs major intervention

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Tuesday, 16 May, 2017

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An audit of Queensland’s major emergency services payroll system has experienced significant delays and is likely to fail without “significant intervention”, an independent audit has found.

The project to implement a new human capital management suite of products for public safety agencies was subject to an audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) between December and January, and this report was tabled into Queensland parliament last week.

The project was initially commissioned by the previous Liberal government, which had allocated $100 million to outsource the payroll function for the Queensland Ambulance Service, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, and Queensland Corrective Services to Datacom.

Through the project, which also involves implementing a new human capital management (HCM) component, the government aimed to move away from the current unsupported Lattice-based payroll solution.

But on being elected in 2015, the current Labor government halted the project and elected to keep the payroll function in-house.

PwC’s audit found that at the time of the review, despite around $35 million of the project’s budget being spent, the agencies were still using the antiquated Lattice payroll system and had not yet implemented any of the new HCM modules.

It states that program management “has not been effective”, which has contributed to potential cost and time delays, and there remained a lack of clarity as to what functionality needs to be delivered for each agency.

The audit also found evidence of unnecessary duplication of effort, ambiguous roles and responsibilities for participants in the program and other inefficiencies.

“Over the last 12 months the program has built good momentum on the payroll scope component. However, as it is, we have low confidence that the program will be successful without significant intervention,” the auditors said.

Based on the performance to date, PwC found that it is unclear whether the $100 million allocated for the project will be sufficient. The professional services company has made a series of recommendations for reforming the management of the project.

But in parliament, Queensland Innovation Minister Leeanne Enoch has insisted that the project is on time and on budget, noting that one agency has already adopted the new payroll system and a second agency’s transition is nearing completion.

She also blamed the previous government’s “appetite for outsourcing” for any mismanagement of the project.

Image credit: ©Štěpán Kápl

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