Glacial progress panned

Cosy deals continue as the Inland Revenue Department's computer-system rebuild creeps slowly forward, Labour revenue spokesman David Clark said yesterday.

The Government painted the rebuild as a ''transformation project'' and paid international consultants $50 million of taxpayer money but, five years on, still had little to show for it, he said.

''The irony of CapGemini and Accenture lining up for the lion's share of future revenue contracts will not be lost on those with a wider knowledge of tax systems.

''In 2012, these same two firms faced scrutiny for paying minimal tax in the United Kingdom while holding lucrative IT contracts with their Government's revenue department.''

No-one was suggesting those companies did not follow the letter of the law, Dr Clark, also the Dunedin North MP, told the Otago Daily Times.

However, multinationals could ship expertise out as quickly as they shipped it in, leaving a vacuum once bones of a contract had been delivered. Local companies, on the other hand, invested in their people and built expertise.

Revenue Minister Todd McClay announced this week the project had progressed with the release of a request for proposal (RFP) for a design provider.

The closed RFP had been released to Accenture and CapGemini, which were short-listed during the expression-of-interest phase.

Both had extensive international experience in delivering tax and technology programmes and had been working with New Zealand companies during the process, he said.

''It was already envisaged the capability and capacity required to implement `business transformation' would come from both New Zealand and overseas.''

The remaining vendors had committed to working closely with the New Zealand IT sector to design and build significant parts of the process, Mr McClay said.

He expected at least one-third of the total services spend on business transformation would go to New Zealand businesses.

Dr Clark said the Government was told six years ago the system was on its last legs. It was now more than two years since Prime Minister John Key himself said the IRD's computer systems were holding tax policy back.

''All the Government has to show for our money is agreement to proceed with the preparation of further business cases. It is time for action.''

The Government should break down the project further to allow smaller, more innovative New Zealand firms to compete.

The minister's ''modest expectation'' had only come about because of sustained pressure from New Zealand's capable IT sector, Dr Clark said.

 

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