Work on the Government's new digital archive system for
official documents has been stopped after officials warned it
was headed for a $10 million budget blowout.
Internal Affairs chief executive Colin McDonald - the
Government's overall IT services boss - and his officials
were grilled on the project by MPs on the government
administration committee yesterday.
After the hearing, Labour's Grant Robertson said the $12
million digital archive programme begun two years ago, which
receives, stores and makes available documents from across
the public sector, was now "in chaos".
A leaked official "health check" on the programme revealed a
projected $10 million cost overrun and a delay of up to five
years to complete it.
It found 39 of 78 performance or progress measures were "red"
or unsatisfactory. While $7 million had been spent so far,
"the programme is forecasting both a financial blowout and
schedule slippage at this stage", officials noted.
"This is a debacle and is costing the taxpayers of New
Zealand dearly," Mr Robertson said.
Officials confirmed that Internal Affairs Minister Chris
Tremain had been briefed throughout the programme and Mr
Robertson asked why he had allowed the programme "to continue
with such a lack of focus and budgetary discipline".
"A review of the programme indicates failure on almost every
level. A large number of staff have resigned and morale is
low because of uncertainty over its future. There has been
poor communication, unsatisfactory documentation, loosely
directed resources and contractors who have no formal
reporting process," Mr Robertson said.
Mr Tremain yesterday confirmed he had the project stopped
after being briefed on its problems.
Mr McDonald said the world's governments were grappling with
the huge problem of how to cope with "a massive influx of
digital information". "We're taking a look at what we should
- Adam Bennett of the New Zealand Herald