Errors, missing projects on governments’ ICT dashboards

Audits into the Queensland and Victorian governments’ online ICT expenditure reporting tools have found both dashboards improved transparency but their accuracy is in question.

The audits by the respective state auditors-general, released within weeks of each other, praised the ICT dashboards, which contain a detailed listing of the government’s ICT projects and expenditure, for improving transparency.

But both reviews cast doubts on the accuracy of the data being entered about projects, with the Queensland auditor finding there were 32 projects worth $161.4 million missing from the State Government’s dashboard despite meeting the guidelines for reporting.

Similarly, Victoria’s Auditor-General found there were four projects missing from the Andrews Government’s ICT dashboard, each worth at least $1 million.

Acting Victorian auditor Dave Barry said he was not “able to give assurance on the overall completeness, accuracy or integrity of the data on the dashboard” and that his probe revealed numerous “data errors.”

“A lack of documentation, or discrepancies between documentation provided and published data, were the primary reasons for inaccuracies. We found that agencies experienced particular challenges in reporting accurate information when a project was transferred between agencies,” the Victorian auditor said.

The Victorian audit, which is the first to review the effectiveness of the State Government’s dashboard, also found that reporting of projects was delayed.

“Not all projects are reported to the dashboard by agencies in a timely fashion. When we looked at the 439 projects that have been reported, we found that nearly a third were reported later than they should have been,” the report said.

Queensland auditor Brendan Worrall found “most departments” reported their data in a timely fashion.

He found there “several weaknesses” with the completeness and controls over the accuracy of the content on the dashboard, “resulting in reduced user confidence in its reliability.”

The Queensland auditor reported that departments failed to report on the projects either because they had their own publishing guidelines, a breakdown of internal processes or their own interpretation of what constitutes a “major ICT project.”

The Victorian ICT dashboard was commissioned after a 2015 audit found that state agencies didn’t have processes to report their ICT spend and raised concerns around a lack of transparency.

Similarly Queensland established its ICT dashboard in 2013 after an audit the year before identified a lack of transparency around ICT projects in the public sector.

The Victorian auditor recommended improvements to record management practices for ICT projects, amending the ICT reporting standard to include more detail about the scope of projects and identifying methods to confirm the accuracy of the reported data were among.

The Queensland auditor recommended that departments work together to publish agreed guidelines, an increase in the cost criteria for reporting and for projects funded to initiative to be reported.

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