BC IT Outsourcing 2017/18

A year has gone by and the public accounts are out again, so I have updated my running tally of IT outsourcing for the BC government.

While the overall growth is modest, I’m less sure of my numbers this year because of last year’s odd and sudden drop-off of the IBM amount.

I am guessing that the IBM drop should be associated with their loss of desktop support services for the health authorities, which went to Fujitsu, but for some reason the transfer is not reflected in the General Revenue accounts. The likely reason is that it’s now being paid out of some other bucket, like the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA), so fixing the trend line will involve finding that spend in other accounts. Unfortunately, Health Authorities won’t release their detailed accounts for another few months.

All this shows the difficulty in tracking IT spend over the whole of government, which is something the Auditor General remarked on when she reviewed IT spending a few years ago. Capital dollars are relatively easy to track, but operating dollars are not, and of course the spend is spread out over multiple authorities as well as in general revenue.

In terms of vendors, the drop off in HP/ESIT is interesting. For those following at home ESIT (formerly known as HP Advanced Solutions) holds the “back-office” contract, which means running the two government data centres (in Calgary and Kamloops (yes, the primary BC data centre is in Alberta)) as well as all the servers therein and the networks connecting them up. It’s a pretty critical contract, and the largest in government. Since being let (originally to Ross Perot’s EDS), one of the constants of this tracking has been that the amount always goes up. So this reduction is an interesting data point: will it hold?

And there’s still a large whale unaccounted for: the Coastal Health Authority electronic health record project, which has more-or-less dropped off the radar since Adrian Dix brought in Wynne Powell as a fixer. The vendors (probably Cerner and others) for that project appear on neither the PHSA nor Coastal Health public accounts, I think because it is all being run underneath a separate entity. I haven’t had a chance to figure out the name of it (if you know the way this is financed, drop me a line).