Ernst & Young will be paid another $7.2 million over the next three months to ramp up work on the federal government’s enterprise resource planning system less than three months after Services Australia enforced a stand down on the overhaul.
The cost of the consulting giant’s work as delivery partner will now come in at more than $57 million by July – almost four times the amount when the principal GovERP contract was first signed in November 2021.
Dubbed the “digital backbone” of the Australian Public Service (APS), GovERP is being developed as a common SAP-based ERP system to replace existing SAP systems in use across the five shared services hub that will reach end-of-life in less than three years.
When complete, the system is expected to be used by around 130,000 public servants from 100 agencies, with only Defence to use a separate SAP S/4 HANA ERP system also currently under development at a cost of more than $1 billion.
Services Australia has spent the last 18 months spearheading the GovERP build after assuming responsibility from the Department of Finance in July 2021, and is working with E&Y to source design, development, enterprise architecture and release skills.
The delivery contract last grew by $35.6 million when the project entered a new build phase last November, as reported by InnovationAus.com. It also sought to prepare for the implementation and on-boarding phase.
A spokesperson told InnovationAus.com that the latest amendment earlier this month reflects the “resources required to deliver the next build and implementation phase of the project”.
The contract – the term of which remains unchanged – comes less than three months after the GovERP workforce entered a stand down, resulting in six weeks of “reduced activity” on the whole of government project between December and January.
InnovationAus.com understands that Services Australia shed as many as 100 contractors on the already late-running project as part of the stand down, while public servants were forced to take leave.
Chief information and digital officer Charles McHardie told Senate Estimates in February that the stand down was “standard practice, apart from the previous two years because of the huge amount of emergency work we had on”.
A total of 1245 contractors were cut from the agency’s external workforce in December, including those working on the Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation (WPIT) which formally ended last July.
Despite the “reduced activity” during the stand down, the project is “still on track to meet its platform deliverables in 2023” and “progress continues on the delivery of the GovERP platform”, the spokesperson reiterated, adding that at the project was “not placed on hold”.
GovERP’s first travel and expense management capability was delivered in July 2022, but the spokesperson would not say if any of the initial 14 agencies served by Finance’s Service Delivery Hub that are in line to transition first are yet to do so.
Fintech 8common, which is involved with the onboarding of users on the travel and expense management solution under a separate $4.7 million contract, last month said 23,000 users were now live, while a further 22,000 are in the process of being onboard.
At last month’s Secretaries’ Digital and Data Committee meeting, Finance secretary Jenny Wilkinson discussed “activities to address the immediate next steps for the GovERP Shared Services Program and progress to date”. But those steps are not disclosed in the communique.
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