Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Mega-council = mega-failures + mega-bills


Yes, folks, this is how big government works.

Auckland’s mega-council has a giant mega-turd for a computer system, with a giant mega-bill to match: $1.24 billion dollars worth of computer grunt making possible such delights as registering your dog, booking swimming lessons online, and downloading copies of Woman’s Day.

Actually, not even this much is true yet: but booking a hall or your swimming lessons online are merely “not far off” say the bureaucrats spending your money. Probably only a few million dollars away.

$1.24 billion is not small change. That’s around $2,500 for every ratepayer in the city-enough to buy each of them a stonkingly good computer setup of their own. It would pay half the bill for Len Brown’s City Rail Link project (well, half of the budgeted bill, and we all know how those costs will end up, don’t we.) Around six times what it cost the ANZ bank for their own system when they amalgamated with the National Bank.

Yes, you can hang this one on Rodney F’ing Hide.

Bills like this are just the opposite of the ‘efficiencies’ that Hide promised punters when he and the Key Government mashed together Auckland’s mini-bureaucracies into one mega-council. But they are precisely what everyone should really have expected – after all, it’s what happens with virtually every big government mega-software package ever developed.

The National Property and Land Information System.



It’s not just NZ government computer projects that blow out and blow up.  Both UK and US government IT failures are legendary. This 2013 report could stand for all of them:

Experts point out that troubled information technology projects aren't unusual in private companies either. But the government's problems, involving taxpayer money, are pervasive and add up to billions in waste. Washington will spend more than $76 billion this year [2013]on information technology. A federal report in January found that 700 projects, accounting for $12.5 billion, were in trouble.
    "Clearly the federal IT system is broken," said Michael Krigsman, an industry analyst who is often hired to analyze project failures. The problems seen with HealthCare.gov are not unique, he said.
    "There are whole strings of failed IT projects where everybody points fingers at everybody else, and there's no one who ultimately takes responsibility."
    The problems start with a byzantine contracting system that matches up poorly with the fast-evolving information world.
    In the time it takes federal agencies to figure out what they need and get Congress to appropriate money, the technology can become obsolete or the costs increase dramatically.
    The appropriations process, said one tech industry lobbyist, is stuck in a "horse and buggy" era.
    "It's almost impossible for the government to find what it wants and get Congress and the [Office of Management and Budget] to buy that thing in a timely fashion," added Trey Hodgkins, senior vice president at the Information Technology Industry Council, a trade group.

No-one anywhere should have expected ‘efficiencies’ from Hide’s mega-council. The bigger the bureaucracy, the bigger the boondoggles – and the more spectacular the blunders.

Hanging may be too good for the man who made this one possible.

* * * *

From the Herald:



  1. Gov't and councils are experts at taking peoples hard earned wealth and making disappear never to be seen again with little to be shown for it. The politicians see the tax and rate payers as an unlimited resource, numbered economic units.

  2. Wait until the IRD computer re-vamp breaks thru it's $1.9 billion budget :)

    1. Yep. I hope it breaks in other ways as well. A naive "friend" who works there (but not for the really dark forces) is confident its too important to be allowed to fail (translate that as cost will be no object but getting them to admit anything will be problematic). Now, where did I leave that EMP thing I got for father's day?



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