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Report shines light on QBCC digital platform inefficiencies

A former senior government bureaucrat’s review into the QBCC will highlight serious shortcomings in the building watchdog’s “disparate” digital platforms first raised in 2020.


Former senior Beattie government bureaucrat Dr Jim Varghese’s review into the building watchdog will highlight serious shortcomings in “disparate” QBCC digital platforms first raised in a critical Auditor-General’s report in 2020.


Dr Varghese’s final report – which sources say Public Works Minister Mick de Brenni will release this week after sitting on the document since May 23 – is expected to “reshine” a light on the Queensland Building and Construction Commission’s systems being “unfit for purpose”.


Insiders say Dr Varghese has raised similar concerns to Auditor-General Mr Brendan Worrell in his “Licensing builders and building trades (Report 16: 2019–20)” to Parliament in June 2020.


“What’s new though is that it’s abundantly clear the QBCC and its board still haven’t delivered on a promise made two years ago to fix the problem,” a source said. “It turns out assurances that the watchdog gives to the independent auditor-general are no more reliable than those given to homeowners, tradies and builders”.


Mr Worrell’s 11 recommendations in 2020 to “help the QBCC become a stronger and more effective regulator” included that the building watchdog “allocates and commits enough resources, with the required capability and skill, to implement its internal project to address the issue of disparate information technology systems”.


His report found that the QBCC’s disparate information technology systems were creating inefficiencies, difficulties in data reporting and analytics, and data integrity risks” – and that staff were being forced to use switch between three separate – unintegrated – systems to just complete a licence assessment.


“Across the organisation, QBCC uses four business systems and has identified a critical need for an integrated solution that provides timely access to accurate data,” the report states.


“QBCC has an approved strategic project to address this, but it is currently on hold as the skilled resources needed were used on other priority projects. This system project is vitally important for QBCC to become an effective risk-focused, insights-driven regulator”.


In his response to the report, tabled in Parliament the same month, then-QBCC Commissioner Brett Bassett acknowledged the report’s conclusions and stated that the “QBCC has commenced implementing the recommendations”.


These included revising an “information Services Roadmap” to help with the commission’s “understanding of what IT systems need to be enhanced; the resources and budget required; and the overarching impact on supporting the organisation”.


Dr Varghese’s report though – which contains 17 recommendations and 77 “corresponding actions for implementation – will once again highlight “serious black spots” in the QBCC’s so-called digital transformation.


That’s despite documents obtained by the LNP Opposition showing the QBCC is relying heavily on contractors to perform essential IT functions, with contracts totalling nearly $3m awarded to just one IT and digital recruitment agency in recent years.


The Varghese report is also expected to recommend structural change to key board and executive roles.




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