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Cargo and culture: the Customs Integrated Cargo System (A) 2007-92.1

10 January 2008



On Wednesday 12 October 2005, the Australian Customs Service switched on its new integrated cargo system (ICS). Although the system was more than two years late and more than eight times over budget, Customs was confident that ICS would perform well. But by Friday, with the new ICS system basically unusable, Australian ports were facing massive backlogs of freight. Two weeks after ICS was switched on, a Customs insider said “We don’t know what’s causing the problem yet, so we don’t know how to fix it.” As the crisis deepened, people both within and outside Customs suggested a return to the old system. With calls for the Prime Minister to sack the Minister for Customs and containers continuing to pile up, the search for both immediate fixes and long-term answers began.

Teaching opportunities offered by this classic case study of a large ICT project that went off the rails include issues of governance, culture, management of outsourcing and stakeholder relationships.

Read more:

  • The epilogue looks at ongoing effects of the problems with ICS, and the impact on Customs, noting that the Chief Information Officer retained his job.
Authors: Professor Michael Vitale
Published Date: 10 January 2008
Author Institution: Monash University
Featured Content Length: 2
Content Length: 10
Product Type: Part A, Primary resources