Media release: Merger dollars go to big Liberal donor

Queensland based software company TechnologyOne Limited has emerged as the biggest winner so far from Baird’s forced amalgamation agenda, with the company picking up an estimated $10 million worth of directly negotiated contracts from just three newly amalgamated councils. Each of these contracts has been granted without a public tender and the precise dollar value of the contracts has been hidden under claims they are commercial in confidence.

TechnologyOne is being actively promoted by the Department of Premier and Cabinet to produce an even more lucrative standardised IT model for all merged councils. This is the same software company that has donated over $150,000 to Liberal Party branches across Australia over the last decade.

An Inner West Council report stated that the Department of Premier and Cabinet “approached Council about partnering with Cumberland Council and Georges River Council on an implementation framework for the TechnologyOne solution.” It goes on to state “The framework would establish a standardised implementation model that could be used by other councils.” All three councils have now signed on with the company.

Commercial in confidence claims have prevented the exact contract details being provided to either the public or Greens MP David Shoebridge in the course of Freedom of Information requests. However documents obtained show that the Inner West Council has budgeted $5 million on the IT costs of the merger and Cumberland Council has a sum “in the order of $2,991,490” for the one contract with TechnologyOne.

Council contracts

  • On 3 August 2016 Cumberland Council resolved to enter into a contract with Technology One for council’s software solutions without going through any open tender process. Council reports show the estimated cost of this contract to be “in the order of $2,991,490”. Minutes available here: Cumberland Council minutes from 3 August 2016 
  • On 27 September 2016 the Inner West Council resolved to enter into a contract with Technology One for council’s software solutions without going through any open tender process. Documents obtained by Greens MP David Shoebridge show the Inner West Council allocating $5,000,000 for information technology costs related to the merger. Minutes available here:  Inner West Council minutes 27 September 2016
  • On 10 October 2016 Georges River Council resolved to enter into a contract with Technology One for council’s software solutions without going through any open tender process. The cost of this contract remains confidential. Minutes available here: St George Council minutes 10 October 2016 

Section 55 of the Local Government Act requires councils to call for tenders before entering into a contract of more than $150,000 unless there are extenuating circumstances.  Each council relies primarily on the fact there has been a merger and that they are in a rush to get an IT solution as a reason for avoiding the public tender process.

Greens MP and Local Government Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“Everyone has been asking who wins from these forced mergers and now we know, the biggest winner so far is a company that’s given more than $150,000 to the Liberal Party across the country.

“TechnologyOne being is being so heavily promoted by the Department of Premier and Cabinet and that at least three merged councils have gotten rid of the open tender process and just signed on with this company.

“When you are talking about crucial long term contracts which are each worth $3 million or more it is extraordinary they are being signed without testing the market for best value.

“This is market where even the councils acknowledge there is a serious competitor to TechnologyOne that can largely provide the same service.

“History proves that the public almost never benefits when viable competitors are frozen out in preference for one-on-one deals.

“The biggest initial cost for long suffering ratepayers in newly merged councils is almost always fixing the IT problems, but what is a cost for ratepayers is an opportunity for a well-connected business.

“For TechnologyOne this first $10 million in ratepayers money is just the start, if they get the nod from the NSW government to deliver IT solutions for all merged councils the final figure will likely be closer to $100 million.

“Right now these decisions are being made by unelected and unaccountable council Administrators who were chosen by the Department of Premier and Cabinet in the first place.

“It is well and truly time that Premier Berejiklian distanced herself from Baird’s failed merger policy, and committed to no forced council amalgamations anywhere in NSW,” Mr Shoebridge said.

 

Obtained through GIPA: 

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