There is “no guarantee” that the Government’s largest ever IT project won’t go over its new £63 million budget - after already doubling the initial planned £28m cost - the Chief Operating Officer has admitted.
During a hearing with the Public Accounts Committee, John Quinn said he couldn’t guarantee the project’s business case was “right” or that “final requirements” would not still be added.
The Government recently revealed it had significantly underestimated the cost and scope of its ‘Integrated Technology Solution’ programme, which was initially expected to cost £28m but will now cost £63m in total.
Pictured: John Quinn, the Chief Operating Officer.
Yesterday, Deputy Inna Gardiner, the Chair of the PAC, quizzed the Government's Chief Operating Officer about the project, and whether it was achieving “value for money."
The St. Helier representative questioned whether any comparison had been made between the amount Jersey will have spent on the overhaul, and what other jurisdictions of similar sizes had spent.
“We spent £44 million for the last six years, we have extra 'sixty-plus' millions to spend going forward plus there will be extra to connect tax to social security,” she said.
“Basically, if you are thinking it’s £106 million… On which scale is Jersey standing with the spending on IT, modernisation within the Government?”
Mr Quinn said he didn’t have a comparison and went on to say he had reviewed where the Government was “against where you would expect a modern organisation."
He added that a number of systems used by the Government, including the Social Security Department, were from “2005 ancient” and that no money had been spent on these systems for nearly 16 years.
Pictured: Some of the computer systems used in Government are from 2005 and haven't been updated since.
“The technology in 2005, the Nokia phone was the mobile phone of choice, it could receive phone calls, it could make texts and it had one game on it,” he said.
Deputy Gardiner said she was not questioning the need to “do a proper upgrade” but questioned what was being done to ensure the budgeting has been done correctly.
“We had a business case for £40 million which was developed with consultants and somehow we didn’t put contingencies there,” she said. “My worry and the public’s worry as well, how can we rely that this will be the final requirement, that you know exactly what needs to be done and within three years our systems will be upgraded at least.
“I understand with IT it is ongoing maintenance and ongoing updates, it’s never a finished project but hopefully it will not be costing dozens of millions it will be costing less going forward.”
Mr Quinn said a detailed business case for the technology transformation programme overhaul had been provided as part of the Scrutiny of the 2020-2023 Government Plan.
Pictured: Mr Quinn said he couldn't guarantee the business case was "right".
“To your point, this is, and I was always clear, this was the start, this was to get us with a sound infrastructure,” he added.
“Since that technology business case came along, we have had a whole lot of additional requirements that have come in, from health for example, to support the Jersey Care model, the new hospital will require completely different IT. Again most of the hospital IT is very old, we haven’t even started on many aspects of that, although we will do, we are starting with a new electronic patient record procurement, which is currently underway and that’s going to be a major piece of work.”
He then hesitantly added he couldn’t provide assurances that the project will not require additional funds on top of the £63 million budget.
“We’ve done the business case, I can’t guarantee it’s the right... or that we won’t have final requirements.”
“We are doing a full business case for each element,” he went on to say. “We did the outline business case for overall transformation, but each element has a full business case behind it.
“One of the things we are not doing is taking the money and running. What we are doing is taking the money and developing the business case and with the ITS is a good example, we developed from the outline business case the full business case and we went back to the Council of Ministers and we went back to the Chief Minister and said ‘this is the full business case, do you still want to go ahead’, rather than what might have happened with projects in the past, which might have started and then ran out of money.”
Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.