$33m TAFE blow-out

VICTORIAN taxpayers are spending tens of millions of dollars to prop up yet another botched IT project, this time across the embattled TAFE sector.

The latest initiative is a student administration system for TAFE institutes to keep records of their enrolments and finances, which began under the former Labor government in 2009.

Four years later, the cost has blown out from $66.9 million to almost $100 million, several major institutes have refused to take part, and the program has still not been fully implemented.

The system is due to go live at Wodonga TAFE by October.

Critics have likened the system to other technology disasters, such as HealthSmart, which was meant to ‘’revolutionise’’ the way hospitals dealt with patients, or the myki ticketing system, which was more than three years late and $350 million over budget.

Opposition skills spokesman Steve Herbert said implementing a unified IT system across TAFE was always going to be challenging in the wake of funding cuts, course closures and job losses. ‘’If you’re trying to roll out a new system at a time of massive funding cuts, it ends up being a very difficult task and very expensive,” he said. ‘’It’s an implementation failure.’’

But Skills Minister Peter Hall — who described the system as a white elephant in opposition – blamed the former Labor government for grossly underestimating the scope of the project when it was first unveiled.

As a result, he said, the IT provider, Technology One, did not have a clear understanding of how the system would work, or how it could be rolled out “in a TAFE environment”.

“Poor initial planning and cost underestimates by the previous government led to Labor’s blow-outs. Upon coming to office, the Coalition determined that to make the system work for TAFEs, extra funding would be provided to ensure the benefits, promised in 2009, were actually delivered,’’ Mr Hall said.

The Coalition has spent an extra $30 million to prop up the project.

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