The cost of implementing an IT system for a proposed new Central Coast Council was $70M back in 2015.
The former Wyong and Gosford councils prior to merger identified that to bring their IT systems up to an acceptable standard would cost in the order of $70M, according to former CEO Gary Murphy.
He joined the Council in July 2018, two years after the almagamation of Gosford and Wyong councils.
Murphy says he was surprised during his incoming briefings that he could not get a definitive answer on the progress of the merger process and how much it had cost.
“The reporting systems were inadequate and it was not possible to get an accurate indication of basic data like the number of staff employed and the basis of the employment, let alone cash management and financial reports,” he said.
“In November, 2018, it was identified that there were more than 800,000 known spreadsheets in the organization.
“This was but one indicator of how staff were creating workarounds as a result of inadequate systems.”
A Project Management Office had been established for the merger process, but it was disbanded in late 2017 before he arrived, and he was told the uncompleted projects were to be carried out as part of business-as-usual activities.
“I set up a project office within the Office of the CEO to resume this work and we reported progress to the Council in July, 2020,” Murphy said.
“At that stage we estimated that the net cost of amalgamation was in the order of $40M with significant more costs to come, potentially another $60M, taking the cost to around $100M.
“To provide some context, an independent report commissioned by the former Wyong and Gosford councils prior to merger identified that to bring their IT systems up to an acceptable standard would cost in the order of $70M (in 2015 dollars).”
Murphy said the Council had spent in the order of $50M, some $20Mm less than forecast, on the IT system by the time he was sacked in November last year.
“This investment stood us in good stead to allow us to deploy 1100 staff remotely within about 48 hours in March, 2020, when COVID-19 hit,” he said.
“The majority of the policy and process harmonisation has been completed with the main outstanding issues being the rating system harmonisation (due July 2021) and the comprehensive Local Environmental Plan and Development Control Plans,” he said.
Administrator, Dick Persson, who took over from the suspended councillors in November last year, said in his 30 day interim report that the expenditure on new IT and financial systems and infrastructure had cost $50M once-off and $8M recurrent and that the Government had provided $10M.