Victorian ICT provider failing, audit finds

The state-owned enterprise responsible for delivering customer ICT services to Victorian government departments has failed to meet targets or keep pace with change, an audit has found.

On its website, Cenitex says it aims to be “the best performing, most innovative and reliable provider of ICT services in Australia”.

The Victorian Auditor-General’s Office finds otherwise in a report tabled in parliament this month.

“Cenitex faces significant challenges to stay relevant to its customers,” VAGO says.

“Cenitex hosts most of its business in managed data centres on old technology. This has created major resiliency issues, resulting in failures affecting service availability.”

Challenges integrating technologies and infrastructure

In a move to avoid outsourcing ICT services, the state government created Cenitex in July 2008 by combining two government ICT service providers, the ICT Shared Service Centre and the Information and Technology Group.

“Cenitex hosts most of its business in managed data centres on old technology. This has created major resiliency issues, resulting in failures affecting service availability.”

But the new entity soon found itself facing a host of challenges in integrating technologies and infrastructure, and between 2011-2014 the government was considering offloading it.

This period of uncertainty hampered Cenitex’s ability to plan for the future, the report says.

“It did not invest during this period to keep pace with accelerating change in the ICT industry. This impacted the service delivery and workforce productivity of its customers,” the audit office says.

In 2015 the government decided to keep Cenitex as a shared services provider but made it optional for departments to use it. Thirty five government agencies and departments use the platform for specific ICT services today.

Failing to meet expectations

Auditor-General Andrew Greaves said the audit set out to examine whether Centrix was meeting customer needs and expectations, and how well it was managing current and future challenges.

It found while Centrix’s fees were competitive, it was failing to meet expectations.

“Cenitex has not met its own service level expectations or those of its customers,” the report concludes.

The audit notes that Cenitex has started to upgrade its old technologies, increase service automation and restructure business processes and improve staff skills.

But it also needs to improve how it addresses  customer needs and expectations, and measures and reports on performance, it concludes.

It says while Cenitex does have a performance management and reporting framework, this hasn’t changed for ten years.

“As a result, not all the service measures are relevant or reflect customer expectations,” it says.

The audit found reports don’t align with service level targets, lack detail and are subject to scant scrutiny from the department of Treasury and finance which is meant to oversee it.

It says stakeholder committee meetings are poorly attended and its annual customer satisfaction survey is useful but “limited because of a low response rate”.

Cenitex met only 68 per cent of its monthly service level targets between 2016-2018, the audit found.

Eight recommendation have all been accepted and Centrix says work has begun to address them.

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