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Victorian education IT procurement practices centralised in wake of Ultranet

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Victoria's Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) has published the response of the Department of Education to Operation Dunham, which IBAC found was corrupted by improper influence over its tender process.

Released early last year, IBAC's report[1] said it had found "process corruption, improper diversion of funds, conflict of interest, and mismanagement at senior levels".

This included receiving hospitality and travel inappropriately; improper communications intended to influence the tender process; a likely attempt to stack an evaluation panel with "like-minded colleagues" to influence the tender outcome; and decisions "contrary to proper procurement process, in particular singular preference for a particular bidder, despite serious concerns about its credentials".

Announced in 2006, Ultranet was slated to be a AU$60 million network for connecting students, teachers, and parents[2] with learning materials and student information. But it rarely worked, and the cost was eventually pinned at somewhere between AU$127 million and AU$240 million.

In its response, the department said it had already made progress on the issues raised by IBAC.

"In December 2017, the department launched the Corporate Procurement Portal, a single stop for employees to access information, resources, and support," it said.

"The new operating model incorporates a move from a devolved procurement model to a centre-led model where an expanded team of procurement professionals will lead end-to-end strategic procurement activities on behalf of the department."

All purchases over AU$150,000 now need to be "discussed" with the departmental procurement division, and approved by the chief procurement officer, the procurement and probity committee, or a procurement manager.

For IT purchases made by schools, a register will be established of suppliers that have passed a privacy and security assessment.

By June, the

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