TAFE pays for Baird’s computer system blundering

TAFE NSW will be forced to pay consultants KPMG $5.86 million out of its slashed budget to track down $477.4m in course fees lost somewhere in TAFE’s computer system, which is also part of the trouble-plagued school computer system. The new computer system was inflicted on TAFE in October 2014 and it has been a complete disaster from the start.

It was back in November 2015 that the Auditor-General first raised awareness of the missing $477.4m buried somewhere in the labyrinth of TAFE’s computer system. Now the Department’s own seekers are outsourcing the search to another bunch for a multi-million-dollar fee. This is high farce and almost laughable if it wasn’t so tragic.

The TAFE computer system is going from bad to worse and we now also have NSW Finance Minister Dominic Perrottet searching for a government chief information officer to fix the school computer system. They’ll be hiring computers to search computers next. From day one in 2014 the new TAFE computer system was an abject failure as it takes over an hour to enrol a class, forcing teachers to set up their own spreadsheets to record student attendance and results. The trouble is then compounded because head teachers cannot easily access students’ results, especially if they took subjects at different TAFE colleges. Also, teachers don’t have access to employer details.

Fast-forward to March 2016 and the TAFE computer system is still a failure, even after more than 100 IT gurus have been trying to fix the problems. This has resulted in staff going on stress leave and creating an unhappy working environment.

Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 the new Director of TAFE has a duty of care to provide a safe working environment. This computer system is causing a stress-loaded environment. One stressed-out worker who has been with TAFE for more than 20 years was told by her doctor the best cure was to resign.

A simple analogy of this computer system is trying to fit the proverbial square peg into a round hole. The data to be entered is the square peg and the round hole is the software. No matter how much money you throw at the problem, it cannot be fixed even if you do have a chief information officer on deck.

The Baird Government has wasted $600m on this computer system.

Instead of the new TAFE computer system being an enabling technology, it is the opposite. It is a disabling technology that is acting as a parasite on the organisation, destroying the intellectual capital of the colleges. It is also destroying the goodwill in the organisation.

Tony Morrissey
TAFE member

Hard-fought gains

As a retired teacher who began teaching even before Dianne Young, I wish to applaud this writer (Letters, February 29) who described the conditions teachers used to face when they went on maternity leave. I would also like to thank Federation for all the advantages they have gained on behalf of teachers.

I wonder if the teachers who commenced their careers much later than Dianne and myself realise how conditions have improved over the decades. These matters are not to be taken for granted.

Frances Macdonald