Principals lament $1bn computer system as ‘a disaster’

Principals lament $1bn computer system as ‘a disaster’

More than 30 leaked emails obtained by The Daily Telegraph have revealed that a new $1bn computer system being rolled out by the NSW Department of Education is turning out to be an administrative headache for the schools using it.

The Learning Management and Business Reform (LMBR) system is being distributed to 229 pilot schools which – according to the leaked emails – are reporting major IT issues and creating unnecessary work for staff.

“The new system does not allow for errors,” one principal wrote in an online chat about the system.

“It’s like giving someone a bike without brakes. I have the electricity company leaving messages because our electricity is unpaid. I have used my personal credit card and cash to fund things that are urgent.”

Another principal said he had run out of patience with the system, which he likened to a racehorse that should be put down.

“If this were a racehorse, it would be put down. The message we keep getting is have faith. Sorry, I have lost mine,” said another school principal.

In July, the Auditor-General revealed the LMBR program had cost more than $531.4m to date, a figure he said was likely to be much higher as “all costs had not been included” in the calculation.

However, Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, has defended the system, saying the pilot program was continuing to identify and resolve potential ICT problems in schools.

“The purpose of having a pilot program is to identify potential problems and, as they have arisen, the Department has dealt with them,” Piccoli said.

An education department spokesman said that while facing “some challenges”, the Education Department had given support to the schools during the rollout.

“The initial pilot deployment to 229 schools faced some challenges. The schools were provided with extra support throughout 2014 and into 2015,” the spokesman said.

“Based on the lessons learned from the pilot, rollout to other remaining public schools is scheduled to commence in the first half of the 2016 school year.”

The Public Service Association has requested an urgent meeting with Piccoli, saying the current trial has shown “many flaws with the system and procedures” and “high levels of stress”.

Opposition Wastewatch spokesman, Chris Minns, warned of “utter chaos” if the program were rolled out to all NSW schools.