A new report by the NSW Auditor-General has revealed ongoing strife with the Learning Management and Business Reform (LMBR) program at the NSW Department of Education and Communities.
Begun in 2006 to modernise the Department’s finance, human resources, payroll and student administrations with SAP solutions, the LMBR program has been the subject of hot debate in NSW Parliament as the costs and timeline blow out.
The latest report, released this week by NSW Acting Auditor-General, Tony Whitfield, said the overall cost of the program now totals $578 million, $95 million more than the original budget of $483 million. Full deployment is also now not expected until December 2017 – well beyond the planned completion date of December 2014.
“The Department has failed to consistently meet time, budget and quality requirements for the Learning Management and Business Reform (LMBR) information technology project,” Whitfield said. “Also, the Department has not demonstrated how the LMBR will achieve its expected benefits.”
The audit process also identified “significant internal control issues” due to “LMBR activities not always being effectively managed”. These included change management issues relating to the Department’s financial systems.
For example, the report identified that there is no formal process to regularly review and monitor the financial performance of the 229 pilot schools already transitioned to the new School Finance System, and the Auditor-General recommended that these should be formalised before deployment to other schools takes place.
The report also recommended that LMBR project staff should receive more effective training in the Department’s IT security and change management policies and procedures, as these were not being applied consistently.