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Queensland Health payroll system overpayments continue

Queensland Health payroll system overpayments continue

Queensland Auditor-General finds ICT management, program and project management, information security, and disaster recovery planning could all be substantially improved

Improvements in Queensland Health’s bungled payroll project have been made but issues with salary overpayments and emergency cash payments persist, according to the Queensland Auditor-General.

Detailing the state of the system, the Auditor-General, Glenn Poole, said Queensland Health was progressing the improvement of the payroll and rostering systems with a new payroll operating model being implemented.

While improvements had also been made to reduce the number of unprocessed payroll transactions, there were ongoing payment issues with the system, though at a reduced level in recent pay cycles.

“Salary overpayments and emergency cash payments have been made to employees since the system went live in March 2010 as a consequence of significant system and business process control issues related to the implementation of the new SAP HR payroll and rostering system,” Poole said in a recent audit into Information systems governance and security.

“The accuracy and stability of the payroll system is progressing. Issues continue to be identified and system changes continue to be made to improve accuracy and stability. At the time of the audit, Queensland Health was implementing systems and processes to improve issue recording, monitoring and reporting. “

Poole said that at the initial reporting stages of the new payroll system in April 2010, approximately 44,000 outstanding adjustments were recorded at the end of each pay cycle. This number had since been reduced to 16.644 as at 11 August 2010.

“Since October 2010, the backlog of outstanding adjustments has stabilised and consistently been within Queensland Health’s two to three day [processing] expectation,” the report reads. “This is considered by Queensland Health to represent a ‘business as usual’ situation and is comparable to the previous payroll system in terms of outstanding adjustments.”

Program and project management structures had also been progressively implemented in accordance with good practice standards. However, the Auditor-General noted the need for more rigour in delivering to scope and ensuring investments are directly related to benefits expected to be realised.

Poole also noted simultaneous programs being undertaken by different business areas within Queensland Health as part of the improvement program which has an overall budget of $208.6m.

“Salary overpayments to employees have continued to occur during the current year, with audit being advised that the primary causes for these continuing overpayments being late employee roster changes after processing for the pay period had closed, processing errors and rounding amounts,” the report reads. “As at 31 March 2011, Queensland Health had written off overpayments of $200 or less totalling approximately $1.3m.”

Commenting more widely on the state of the Queensland Government’s ICT Poole said the quality of ICT management, program and project management, information security, and disaster recovery planning could all be substantially improved.

“To deliver the targets outlined in the Toward Q2 through ICT strategy, it is essential that rigorous management arrangements are in place at the agencies,” the report reads. “Too often, focus is on information technology strategies, policies and budgets, and not recognising that without good management, these actions are unlikely to be translated into the desired results.

“The audit of major IT program management found that in many instances there is currently no clearly identified business owner for the whole-of-government programs, that is, the departments who will gain value from the successful implementation of the program.

“This has resulted in a lack of overall commitment at the individual agency level in the implementation of the technology being produced through these programs.”

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