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CeniTex contracts lead to police questions

Rising tide of probity investigations in Oz IT industry

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The Victorian government’s IT strategy seems to be unraveling, with revalations emerging that its flagship whole-of-government agency CeniTex awarded a hosting contract to a company controlled by staff of the organization.

CeniTex first received unwanted attention in 2009, when details emerged of extremely lavish payments to contractors and executives (who were on occasion the same people).

The stakes have been raised considerably, however, by allegations in a Fairfax newspaper that executives of CeniTex last year awarded a hosting contract to a new company which they had established.

According to The Age, police are now investigating the circumstances surrounding the awarding of the contract. The newspaper doesn’t name the company involved (perhaps for legal reasons), but states that two CeniTex project managers sat on a selection panel for a tender awarded to their “two-dollar shelf company”.

While the original project covered just $AU145,000 worth of hosting services, the newspaper says the contract ultimately resulted in work worth $AU1.5 million.

It’s part of what seems to be an outbreak of corruption investigations in Australia’s IT industry which, in comparison to more notorious activities such as NSW property development, has a relatively clean image.

The blows are mounting, however. Earlier this year, again in Victoria, the Auditor-General queried the tender assessment process surrounding the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative.

In NSW, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has a current investigation, Operation Barcoo, the brief of which includes investigating whether corrupt payments were made for IT services.

ICAC is also reportedly investigating IT contracting by the Sydney University according to the Sydney Morning Herald, although the watchdog has not yet made a public announcement regarding the investigation. ®

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