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Court drops IBM's costs on Queensland government

The failboat of a decade sunk at last

The long-running legal stoush between IBM and the Queensland state government is genuinely, finally, truly over, and the government has to pay Big Blue's costs.

Sueballs have been flying between Big Blue and Queensland for years, over a Department of Health payroll system rollout that turned into a disaster: what was supposed to cost AU$6 million in its first iteration eventually topped $1.2 billion.

Even then, it didn't work: when the system went live, thousands of staff were unpaid or paid the wrong amount. Some were asked to re-pay wages they had been paid in error, a request that went down rather badly.

Back in 2013, a government inquiry found the government was incompetent – particularly because the Labor government that initiated the project gave it a deal promising not to sue, that was left to its successor, the Newman government – but also accused IBM of “ethical transgressions” by low-balling its bid when the project kicked off in 2007.

The commission of inquiry said the government's brief was “overly flexible” and badly put together, and its project management was inadequate.

The 2010 agreement that let IBM off the hook proved insurmountable for the Queensland government, and in 2015, the Queensland Supreme Court kiboshed the case.

The final chapter was written earlier this week, with the government ordered to pay all costs incurred by IBM, which The Register expects will easily run into the millions.

The infamous project also had IBM and Accenture sniping at each other over who was at fault; only SAP managed to escape the affair without its name besmirched. ®

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