Special Report Number 59: Management Information Systems in the Institute of Technology Sector   Press Release

Dublin Castle, 18 December 2007

Press Release: Management Information Systems in the Institute of Technology Sector

The Comptroller and Auditor General, Mr John Purcell, has today published a report arising from an examination of the implementation of management information systems in the Institute of Technology Sector.

Background to the Examination

In 1998 a contract was entered into with a supplier to provide an integrated management information system to the Institutes of Technology.  The system was to cover the key areas of student administration, financial management and personnel management.  A separate contract was negotiated with a different supplier for the installation of a library system.  The management information systems were implemented in the Institutes of Technology in a joint project over the period 1999 to 2005.

The examination reviewed how well the management of procurement of systems and related contracting was handled, how well the implementation project was effected and whether the project objectives have been achieved.

Main Findings

Procurement and Contracting

At the time the contract was entered into it was known that there were gaps in the capability of the selected finance component of the software but it was considered that these difficulties could be overcome.  By 2001 further reservations arose and a detailed gap analysis indicated that significant modifications would be required.  Subsequently, the suitability of the selected human resource component of the software was also called into question.

Legal advice indicated that proceedings against the supplier for contract breaches would be problematic and that a commercially satisfactory solution without the necessity of litigation would be preferable.  Within the existing contractual framework alternative finance and HR systems were chosen to replace the originally selected software for these functions at an additional cost of ?4.2 million.

Credits of ?1.4 million were negotiated with the original supplier to reduce the cost of the substitute products.  These credits represented just 15% of the initial contract value despite the fact that two of the three major components of the initial procurement were not implemented.

An initial focus on integration and on securing a ?best fit? solution to the priority need for a student system may have led to the sub-optimal choice in regard to the finance and human resource components.

Project Implementation

The original project planning was not commensurate with the scale of the work to be undertaken.  As a result, unrealistic cost projections and timescales were formulated.

The project suffered in the initial years from inadequate project planning, resourcing difficulties, a lack of full commitment and weak governance and management structures.  However, following a mid-course review, a well thought out plan and improvements in governance structures were put in place and the project was effectively delivered.  This was no mean achievement give the autonomous status of the institutes.

Project Outturn

The total cost incurred in acquiring and implementing the systems was ?58.4 million.  Total project expenditure exceeded budget by approximately ?5.7 million.  The target completion date for the revised project was December 2004 which was substantially achieved.

A key challenge will be to ensure that the necessary procedures and expertise are in place to underpin the ongoing support and development of the systems.

Recommendations

The report sets out a number of recommendations on managing major IT procurement and on IT planning, monitoring and control.

Notes for Editors

The Comptroller and Auditor General is an independent constitutional officer with responsibility for the audit of public funds.  He reports to Dáil ?reann.

The full text of the report is available on the website of the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (go to www.audgen.gov.ie).

For further information about the report, please contact Richard Rapple at (01) 6031038 or at richard_rapple@audgen.irlgov.ie