A former Victorian education department secretary won't go to jail for defrauding the state of nearly $1 million to try to salvage a disastrous learning program for schools.
Darrell Fraser funnelled $996,996 into IT company CSG Services, behind the failed "Ultranet" online learning portal for state schools.
It crashed the day it launched in 2010.
Then-deputy education department secretary Fraser knew the project, meant to have cost just over $60 million, wasn't eligible for more government funding.
In a bid to salvage it he arranged for extra money to be transferred in 2011 under the guise of a consulting project.
Nearly a decade on, the 67-year-old has pleaded guilty to misconduct as a public official and obtaining financial advantage by deception.
County Court Judge Martine Marich on Monday said she didn't intend to jail Fraser and instead flagged he would be put on a community correction order.
Prosecutors didn't oppose the move, acknowledging the former public official's fall from grace and remorse.
"It's accepted the motive was to try and save the Ultranet program and, as he frankly acknowledged to police, he went about it in the wrong way, in a way that was illegal," Tom Gyorffy QC told the court.
Ultranet was an online learning portal designed to link teachers, students and parents.
It crashed during its launch, dubbed "The Big Day Out" and in front of about 5000 principals, teachers and politicians, before being dumped three years later.
Fraser later told investigators he used a purportedly legitimate contract to transfer a total of $996,996 through contractor Alliance Recruitment, which kept a small cut and paid the rest to CSG.
"It was clear that I could not deliver more resources to CSG by just sort of getting another million dollars, because the Government had gone public with $64.6 million, and that they would be spending no more in the delivery of this project," the former top bureaucrat confessed, according to court documents.
Mr Gyorffy said Fraser did not personally profit from the deception.
The prosecutor agreed jail was not warranted, citing Fraser's cooperation with authorities, the near-decade delay in the case and punishment by way of reputational damage.
Judge Marich agreed the case involved the "most unusual combination of circumstances".
Fraser remains on bail and is due to be sentenced on July 24.