Victoria's dodgy education dealings laid out
New revelations have woken up debate over a former Victorian Labor government's IT project, with reports that education department officials had shares in and even took jobs with the company given a $60 million government contract.
Victoria’s failed Ultranet schools IT project was dumped by an incumbent Coalition government last year, ditched after costs blew out to $180 million.
The state’s anti-corruption agency is undertaking an inquiry into the conduct of staff at the government agency, but the latest find comes from documents in an education department internal investigation in 2010.
Revealed in Fairfax media new outlets on Wednesday, it appears that education department general manager John Allman bought shares in tech firm CSG Limited before it was handed the Ultranet contract in July 2009.
The department's regional directors at the time - Wayne Craig and Ron Lake – also allegedly purchased 11,289 and 1112 CSG shares respectively, soon after the company was awarded the Ultranet contract.
Fairfax says Mr Lake's assistant regional director for Loddon Mallee, Julie Baker, purchased 14,238 CSG shares in August 2009.
CSG's share registry allegedly confirmed the purchases.
Reports say the education department's former acting secretary, Jeff Rosewarne, failed to act on the inquiry's recommendations for disciplinary action and did not refer the case to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission.
Mr Rosewarne became head of the Primary Industries department in August 2011.
But the revelations go deeper, with claims that the education department deputy secretary responsible in charge of the Ultranet scheme, Darrell Fraser, moved on to an executive position with CSG in July 2011.
It was just two years after he played a central role in giving the company the contract.
The deal was CSG’s biggest-ever contract, and was allegedly awarded against the advice of Premier and Cabinet and Treasury.
Six months after Mr Fraser’s appointment, he was joined at CSG by a former senior education bureaucrat also previously responsible for the Ultranet, Dianne Peck.
The media investigation claims that the small-time Darwin-based CSG Limited won the Ultranet tender largely because it agreed to a $5 million buyout of Cinglevue Pty Ltd, which was part-owned by a former colleague of Mr Fraser and Ms Peck.
Cinglevue operated as a vendor for US software firm Oracle’s educational products.
Oracle was involved in trails of an Ultranet prototype at Glen Waverley Secondary College, where Mr Fraser was principal and Ms Peck his assistant principal.
Mr Craig left the education department last year and says he was not involved in awarding the Ultranet contract to CSG.
Mr Rosewarne is now a director of the Catholic Education Office.
Mr Lake is now a director of schools in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Ms Baker reportedly worked as a consultant with Mr Lake in Saudi Arabia in late 2012.
Mr Fraser and Ms Peck have also worked in Saudi Arabia with Mr Lake, according to Fairfax media, though all refuse to respond to inquiries.
Mr Cushing and several other former education department staff involved with the Ultranet have also since worked in Saudi Arabia.