The fall-out from one of the greatest IT debacles in Australian public administration continues, with Queensland Health still owed $38 million from 32,000 current or former staff who were overpaid during the 2010 payroll bungle.
For the first time, Health Minister Cameron Dick yesterday released the number of nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers paying back the debts they incurred as a result of the troubled implementation of the IBM IT system.
Thousands of staff were unpaid, underpaid or overpaid under the payroll scheme undertaken by the Bligh Labor government, and the saga – including an inquiry and a failed compensation case against IBM – has since cost taxpayers more than $1.2 billion.
According to the minister, the latest figures for Queensland’s 16 hospital and health services showed the outstanding balance was $38.29 million last month, reduced from $69.47 million in February 2015.
Of the 31,873 overpayments still outstanding, 70 per cent were for less than $1000, 8838 for $1000 to $5000, while 1396 people had debts of more than $5000.
“I am pleased that the debt profile has decreased, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that a payroll bungle of such proportions should never have happened in the first place,” Dick said.
“I have publicly apologised for what happened, and I do so again.”
Dick said that with 106,000 pay cheques generated fortnightly – totalling $327 million – it was inevitable there would continue to be some payroll errors.
“Staff are employed under two different Acts, covered by nine different industrial awards, impacted by six different industrial agreements which include more than 200 different allowances,” he said.
But overpayments now account for about 0.4 per cent of the total payroll amount and approximately 90 per cent of new overpayments are recovered within 12 months.
“I encourage all current and former employees to work with Queensland Health to resolve their outstanding overpayments. I also encourage anyone who is struggling to repay an overpayment to discuss hardship provisions with their case manager,” Dick said.