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Auditor says new Sask. health payroll system 'has not gone well,' could cost $240M

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The troubled production of a new IT system for Saskatchewan hospitals is now projected to cost around three times its original budget at $240 million, according to the provincial auditor.

The Administrative Information Management System (AIMS) was designed to manage payroll, human resources, scheduling and finances for health care workers across the province.

The system has been in development since 2018. At its onset, the project was estimated to cost $80 million.

The program attempted to launch in November of 2022 but was paused after issues such as failed staff scheduling, payroll time entry and other system defects became obvious.

According to the provincial auditor’s latest report – the cost of AIMS has now ballooned to a forecasted $240 million – with no changes to the project’s original scope.

Tara Clemett, Saskatchewan’s provincial auditor, says a report is needed on what went wrong with AIMS and how to avoid issues like it in the future.

“The key here is this IT system project implementation has not gone well for the Saskatchewan Health Authority [SHA] and they definitely need to do a lessons learned report because we have other significant IT projects that are ongoing in government,” she said.

The auditors’ report outlined that the AIMS executive steering committee took “appropriate steps” to identify factors contributing to the implementation failure in November 2022 and shared the information with the SHA.

As part of the report, the provincial auditor identified a need to separate “incompatible duties” for staff – pointing to SHA employees using journal entries to record payroll, capital asset additions and cash receipts.

“Separating incompatible duties decreases the risk of not catching errors and situations where expected processes are not followed. In addition, involving more than one individual in making purchases and paying employees decreases the risk of undetected fraud,” the report read.

Clemett said that the incompatible duties issue would be one of many fixed by a new system.

“I think they [SHA] need to relook at their governance model as such, figure out a new plan and figure out how they drive forward,” she told reporters.

“AIMS at the end of the day is a key system for the SHA overall … everything right now is a bit siloed and they do need that integrated system.”

The province has not established a new implementation date for AIMS.

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