The Government has been forced to defend its £63m IT programme - whose cost has more than doubled since it was announced last year - against accusations of poor project management.
After revealing details of its ‘Integrated Technology Solution’, with the naming of Deloitte subsidiary Keytree as the programme’s lead partner, officials were grilled by Scrutiny yesterday over how the project could be seen as "good value for the public."
The five-year project will cost £63m - a figure more than twice the £28m initial estimate. This was because, the Government said earlier this week, it had significantly under-estimated the cost and scope of the project, which will integrate finance, payroll and procurement systems.
In particular, the Government conceded that it had over-estimated the ability of existing departments to staff the programme. It said much of the extra cost would be spent on backfilling existing jobs or employing more people to join the project.
This approach came under fire from the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel - a group of politicians tasked with reviewing the project - yesterday, particularly St. Peter Constable Richard Vibert, himself a qualified project manager.
“The increase in costs cannot be seen as good value for the public,” he said during a hearing of the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel.
Pictured: “No project methodology has been applied," said St Peter Constable Richard Vibert.
“I don’t think that it is sufficient to say incorrect assumptions were made over who would pay for various aspects of the project.
“We were not looking at who would pay for the paper clips; this was training and implementation that will cost millions of pounds - but assumptions were made that other departments would pay for that.
“But if we look to the Government Plan, those departments were funded for ‘business as usual’ - there was no allocation for this project. We missed off £20m and that shows weakness in the original assessment, which warrants a review.
“No project methodology has been applied and, yet again, we hear ‘we must do this project’ irrespective of the fact that it will cost more than it should.”
Pictured: The benefits of the ITS project, according to the Government.
However, the Government said it was following UK Treasury best-practice in making an outline business case, which had established the £28m budget last year, followed by a full business case, which had incorporated the £35m increase following engagement with commercial partners.
Chief Operating Officer John Quinn told the panel: “We decided to put in an estimate of the total costs with the outline business case, drawn up in 2019, which we would then validate through the full business case.
“We have gone through a thorough procurement process, which has taken the best part of a year. That has allowed us to refine the costs to our suppliers but also the effort required by the Government of Jersey to meet the needs of those suppliers to deliver this programme.”
The Government say that the £63m will be money well spent as it will integrate systems and make it easier for departments to engage with suppliers, make it easier for staff to access their own records, such as pay and holidays, and improve the way it manages its extensive inventory of assets.
Pictured: Chief Operating Officer John Quinn.
It also says the ITS programme makes up for decades of under-investment in IT systems.
There will also be a ‘social value’ element to the ITS project that will see unemployed Islanders being trained in IT, with the intention of them being employed on the programme. Schools and charities will also be involved.
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