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Aucklanders to pay for Nats’ negligence

Written By: - Date published: 8:35 am, May 28th, 2011 - 73 comments
Categories: accountability, national/act government, rodney hide, supercity - Tags: ,

Auckland ratepayers are going to be stuck with a huge bill for the Nats’ failure to properly cost the Supercity merger process. Specifically in this case, the cost of merging the IT systems.

Planning for the Supercity merger was a shambles. There were many warnings here at The Standard about the un-costed aspects of the process, including mine (back when I was a guest poster) on the failure to plan for the costs of merging the various Council IT systems.

Well now the estimates are in. A unified Auckland IT infrastructure is going to cost more than half a billion dollars over eight years, and $300 million of this has not been budgeted for. Bernard Orsman sets out the facts in The Herald. But the usually moderate Russell Brown steps up and says what a lot of Aucklanders will be thinking:

Someone has to be accountable for this

There were warnings last year, including here in this blog, that a nasty surprise was developing in the process of merging council IT systems for the new Auckland super city; that long-term costs were being buried by the Auckland Transition Authority to make the process look better. Today, in Bernard Orsman’s story in the Herald, we finally get an idea of quite how nasty the surprise is: very.

It will cost the Auckland Council more than half a billion dollars over eight years to build new computer systems to conduct its business — and a staggering $300 million of that had not been budgeted. …

Given that, as The Aucklander has discovered, the new council has been obliged to spend $2 million a month on private outsourcing of planning work it no longer has staff to cover, it is not unreasonable to conclude that Hide’s estimate of post-November establishment costs — to which the transition authority he personally appointed has committed Auckland ratepayers — will be out by a factor of 10.

Someone has to be accountable for this. And we, as ratepayers, also deserve to know what the authority, the minister, the Department of Internal Affairs, Cabinet and the Prime Minister knew about the real costs that were stacked up by an unelected body last year. And if it transpires that any or all of those parties knew that the costs would be far in excess of what we were told, then there is only one way of characterising what happened.

We were lied to.

Rodney Hide screwed up, but he’s irrelevant now. The Nats screwed up too, from the moment they started riding roughshod over the recommendations of the Royal Commission, ignoring the submissions to Select Committee, and stripping the local democracy out of Auckland. They failed to plan the transition properly, and now Auckland ratepayers are going to foot the bill. I wonder if the kick in the wallet will awaken the Auckland public at last?

73 comments on “Aucklanders to pay for Nats’ negligence ”

  1. Tiger Mountain 1

    Mark Ford from the Transition Authority is still around so he should be hammered with OIA requests for a start. If this level of suspected bullshitting is proven and doesn’t shift some of the Auckland “change” voters at least, then everyone had better prepare for an extremely nasty three years ahead.

  2. Lazy Susan 2

    No surprises here – $2 million a month on private outsourcing and big fat private IT contracts for building a new computer system – seems the NActs agenda to let their mates get the hands on our hard earned money is well and truly in motion.

    Forget about pointing at Rodney – he was played by NAct and the panting sycophantic fall guy got the job done so was then quickly dispensed with. He will certainly know where the skeletons are though and may be angry enough to leak. This is well and truly NActs work and Aucklanders need to be constantly reminded of this over the next six months.

    • infused 2.1

      I know exactly where that 2m is going and it’s not what you think. It’s being spent on basic operations.

      • Puddleglum 2.1.1

        What, “basic operations” are being performed by “private outsourcing”?

        Surely ‘basic operations’ – especially in the area of planning – are just what should be directly provided and should not be dependent upon the whims of this month’s recipients of the ‘private outsourcing’ money. Basic operations are just what require stable, continuous and directly democratically accountable management – i.e., council run and staffed by council staff.

  3. Armchair Critic 3

    As expected, Auckland Council is doing less with more money.
    It initially struck me as being completely contrary to National’s ideals to reorganise Auckland as they did – creating a bigger council has just added layer after layer of management. Now there are the same number of people doing the work, or less in many cases, and more people supervising them, or supervising their supervisors.
    They have changed their hiring policies over the last couple of years. At present they are trying to take on as many people as possible on fixed contracts, to keep the appearance of an efficient organisation. Once the fuss has died down, the fixed term contracts (which are currently rolled over as they expire) will be converted into permanent roles. Watch for a large increase in staffing after the middle of next year.
    Anyway, the reason the reorganisation proceeded the way it did was to facilitate the privatisation of Auckland’s assets at some time in the future.
    Specifically on the IT costs. Do you know, r0b, if the costs are so high due to the speed with which the reorganisation was implemented, due to the structure chosen, both, or something else? How much could have been saved if it had been done differently?

  4. ianmac 4

    A long time ago I drove through Auckland and my wife and I thought what friendly drivers these Aucklanders are. As we drove up the street they waved and tooted in animated ways. Wow! It did seem a bit strange though that our car was the only one going in that direction.
    Have you sorted your traffic problems yet? In our town they are thinking of getting those new-fangled traffic lights. Perhaps not.

  5. Sookie 5

    Regarding the lack of town planners, worshippers of the free market always do this. Sack permanent staff to save costs and because they’re ‘back office’ and end up employing rip off consultants to do the work that needs doing, and a lot of the time they do a shit job. The same thing will be happening in the public service with policy analysts too. Consultants love the Nats.

  6. Colonial Viper 6

    Half a billion dollars is only four hundred dollars each for every man woman and child in Auckland. Not much at all.

    I am sure the SuperCity savings will pay that back within one or two years, right?

    • burt 6.1

      Yes indeed, much better to have multiple systems and multiple departments all doing the same thing but being accounted for under different budgets so nobody knows the real cost…..

  7. burt 7

    Specifically in this case, the cost of merging the IT systems.

    So no mention of the waste that was ongoing keeping the separate systems ?

    Typical myopic beat-up mentality. Next thing you will be cornered into bagging the merge because it resulted in [x number] of highly paid IT people being made redundant….

    The things you lovers of big govt choose to attack are just ridiculous.

    • Lanthanide 7.1

      burt, the point is they could have taken an existing system used by one of the 8 merged councils, expanded it and modified it so that it could work the entire new council. This would have been much cheaper. Instead, they have chosen to scrap all of the existing systems and create a brand new one from scratch, which is more expensive.

      • burt 7.1.1

        So you know the numbers ? You know that one of the existing systems would have been suitable for the entire opperation?

        How can you possibly make such a broad sweeping statement, do you understanmd the different business models the previous (probably customised) systems supported? Do you know the requiremnts of the new ‘super city’ systems ? Do you know that it would have been cheeper to expand capacity on one single already inuse plastform rather than implement a new one? Do you know the upgrade paths and costs for the one system that you know would have been suitable?

        • logie97 7.1.1.1

          There you go again burt – defending the indefensible (and of course YOU can answer all those questions you pose above).
          Just sometimes burt, you do not have to toe the party line.
          The day you are critical of something the current government is/has done, the day the punters here will give you some credence. Meantime get lost.

        • burt 7.1.1.2

          logie97

          I’m not defending the governance, I’m simply poining out that attacking the one off costs of replacing 8 duplicate IT operations is about as stupid as it gets.

          • Draco T Bastard 7.1.1.2.1

            And the whole post was about how those costs were hidden…

          • terryg 7.1.1.2.2

            burt,

            care to cough up your IT qualifications and experience, so we can accord your comments the merit they deserve?

            [BTech(hons)Information Engineering here, but alas no real-world IT experience]

            although to be fair, approximately every single large software/IT project ever undertaken in NZ has been a costly debacle. As one of my lecturers once said (last century) “if it has the word ‘integrated’ in the title it will cost three times as much, take twice as long and deliver nothing”

            • burt 7.1.1.2.2.1

              terryG

              … but alas no real-world IT experience,. That is obvious because you missed my points above.

              do you understanmd the different business models the previous (probably customised) systems supported? Do you know the requirements of the new ‘super city’ systems ? Do you know that it would have been cheeper to expand capacity on one single already inuse plastform rather than implement a new one? Do you know the upgrade paths and costs for the one system that you know would have been suitable?

              But hey, a lecturer once told you if it has integrated in the name it will cost more and deliver nothing – and amalgamation must be integration right !

              We don’t know that one of the systems would have been suitable for the requirements of the new entity. But if you have access to the detailed reports that supported the “new system” decision then we can debate the quality of the decisions. I assume Lanthanide has that info, he/she knows one of the existing systems would have been fine.

              • lprent

                Burt, one of the major problems was that these systems were running on different rulesets – literally one per council – because each council made its own rules. This was obvious to anyone who lives in Auckland because each of the cities had quite different behaviors and rules. Remember each of these cities was larger than almost any city outside of Auckland. So they had systems that were designed for their rules, requirements, and capacity.

                If you remember back before the Act party in the form of Rodney Hide screwed it up and discarded it, the royal commissions recommendation was to keep the cities running but to put in a super council to do the city wide stuff that needed fixing. There was a reason for that, and we’re seeing that now. To put in a system that has the same rules and access throughout the whole of the city requires that either the rules remain separated on separate systems – which would defeat the simplistic stupidity of Hide’s ideas, or that the systems got integrated. Since none of the hardware, software, or networks were designed for the required capacity or the merged rules sets – Auckland winds up having to virtually replace whole systems.

                Now you notice that I said systems. For instance there is the animal control systems which each city had differing rules, data, and software. Anyone who’d owned a dog and moved around the city was aware that it was quite different in Rodney to Auckland. Then there are the differing geodata for roads, water, etc. In some places these were held in council. In some places in semi-autonomous boards. But whatever happens there will be data that has to be consolidated, the missing bits fixed, and access provided from something like the ATA to the council and vice versa. There are probably upwards of a hundred different systems that require integrating from storm water quality monitoring to tracking requests to lay cables. Each requires an integration and consolidation of data on a system with capacity to run its function for the whole city. It will be a hell of a long set of jobs.

                This was obvious to anyone who knew Auckland and anything about the system. My ballpark estimate was that Rodney Hide and the National parties policy fuckup was going to take a decade before any cost benefit could be seen, and that we’d be looking at a few billion’s of dollars in extra costs in the short to medium term.

                Why do you think that I was going ballistic over that fuckwit Rodney Hide’s plan and Nationals pathetic acquiescence to it. It was quite evident that they were ignoring the downstream costs. They preferred to just look at the PR.

                In my opinion you’re talking out of your arse (as usual). You simply don’t know much about the place. Your comments to me seem to be applicable for something simple like a bank where you can run stuff side by side for quite some time, or two similar geographical authorities that merge. But it is not applicable when you have more than 5 very large dissimilar geographical authorities merging.

                • John Holley

                  You are absolutely right on the complexity of local Govt. It had to be explained to the DIA why GIS and Records Management were important to have in place on day 1!

                  The biggest cost has been the implementation of SAP at the Council. Here we are just talking about core Financials and HR for day 1 at the heart of it. Both Transport and Council had to deal with exactly the same issues on migration.

                  One choose to leverage existing council systems, one didn’t. One spent around $2 million to be able to pay staff and suppliers on day one, one spent $58 million and couldn’t do that day 1. Hmmm.

                  • lprent

                    Yeah. You can’t run a city without GIS & Records in place these days. With the amount that most of Auckland gets torn up they’d have had to stop all development and most of the repairs and maintenance until they were in place. I guess DIA doesn’t run that much data apart from the births, deaths and passports? Most of which is pretty static data.

                    I’m mostly surprised that the transitional authority managed to make the rules cohesive enough across the city to be able to generate a standard system.

                    I rather suspect that they didn’t and in fact they left a lot of localized complexity in there. That would have boosted the integrated systems costs quite a lot as well.

                • burt

                  lprent

                  Thankyou for adding weight to my assertion that Lanthanide was talking crap with the assertion;

                  could have taken an existing system used by one of the 8 merged councils, expanded it and modified it so that it could work the entire new council.

                  Apart from point that out I’ve made no assertions about what was right or what was wrong with the decision so I fail to see how you justify your (as usual) baseless denigration of my position.

                  • lprent

                    Dang – you’re right. You were arguing the same point that I was. I just couldn’t figure out what you were arguing because the bold bit looked like you shouting rather than you quoting.

                    My apologies. My remarks were directed at whoever burt was quoting.

            • terryg 7.1.1.2.2.2

              burt,

              so no relevant quals/experience? or just shy?

              you’ll have noted, of course, that my comment merely asked if you actually have any relevant experience/knowledge in regards to this thread.

              my point re. cost of systems integration is simply that this stuff is invariably more expensive than it might at first seem – cost overruns are the norm rather than the exception. Two that spring to mind immediately are IBIS and INCIS (studied one in detail, had a mate involved with the other) – and guess what, neither delivered anything

              I didnt realise it was necessary to explicitly state the “integrated” sentence is amusing rather than strictly factual (although it appears to be a reasonable first-order approximation). I apologise profusely for assuming you had the reading comprehension at least equal to that of a teenager

              Given that, I must therefore point out that “to be fair” should be read as “harshly judge ye not IT cost overruns, for in troth ’tis complex”

              Nevertheless getting the cost wrong by an order of magnitude is impressively bad even for a huge IT integration task, and smacks of a total and utter lack of analysis/planning (or it was done by trreasury). Comments by those with some knowledge in this area seem to support this hypothesis

      • infused 7.1.2

        You obviously don’t know how systems work. Most of these systems are 3rd parties from overseas they cannot expand like this. My bet is they are using shitty databases.

        • Draco T Bastard 7.1.2.1

          My bet is that you’re as informed as burt.

        • lprent 7.1.2.2

          Actually I’d agree (must be a first).

          Probably the databases are ok in terms of structure and code for what they were doing. But a what, sevenfold increase in the size of database that was brought to handle a much smaller size is almost certainly require more hardware just to handle the memory overhead and disk storage for the database. It is also going to change the effective lookup speeds of subqueries – which has a hell of a performance hit.

          Scaling databases between smallish and large is an expensive artform. But sysops tend to buy what is required for their needs plus some headroom. They would not have even thought to buy for the type of headroom required for a 5-10 fold increase.

          • John Holley 7.1.2.2.1

            With the core ERP, SAP, scale was never an issue. Adding storage is relatively straight forward. Even now, the SAP instances run by Transport and Council are small on international standards.

            • lprent 7.1.2.2.1.1

              Most of my experience with the systems of various council was from the early 90’s (before I knew better than to get involved with governmental organisations).

              What caught my attention was the profusion of relatively small systems in use doing a pile of odd tasks from capacity planning to keeping track of faults like potholes that needed to be fixed to noise control. Many at that stage were just having their first movement into digital.

              I’d presume that these days they have most of these available, and many online across networks. Certainly friends and acquaintances who do or have worked for the councils and other city authorities seem to spend their life attached to computer extracting information.

              I didn’t expect that scaling the disks would be as much of an issue as making those little systems available across the city. Where in the past you could say to a ratepayer to go to the Waitemata city council building, it gets somewhat harder for someone living in Franklin than it is in Henderson.

        • burt 7.1.2.3

          Exactly, this is the point. Without studying the inventory and license contracts of all the individual applications running across all the entities we are entirely unable to make judgements of what was the best course of action.

          Pointing at one time costs for amalgamation and creating a beat up using the idea that one of the 8 would have had it right for all of them is just ridiculous.

          • John Holley 7.1.2.3.1

            Have to disagree. SAP was already running the 2nd largest council in Australasia (Auckland City), the largest regional council (ARC) in NZ and the largest transport authority in NZ (ARTA). (as well as being used by Waitakere City) This meant all the core financial/HR processes of the new Council and CCOs were known to be covered by SAP already

            We were well aware of the licensing and inventory. Independent assessments confirmed SAP was the right decision. The difference in costs came down fundamentally to approach. One copy and cleanup, the other a greenfield implementation (recreating all the work already in existence). The latter approach effectively voided much of the investment in SAP that the ARC, ARTA, ACC and WCC had made over the previous 10 years – which the ratepayers paid for.

            (SAP is designed to be able “transport” configurations from one system to another so the approach of Transport was based on standard SAP practise)

            • SAPeR 7.1.2.3.1.1

              Hi John,

              Do you know if the new SAP deployment delivered? Did the reported $58 million actually deliver a working solution that met all the project deliverables on time? If not I wonder what the total costs might be?

              • John Holley

                My understanding is no. For example, on day 1, all Manukau staff were payed from Manukau’s payroll system (except for those who moved to Transport), and accounts receivable had to be processed in legacy systems (but not at Transport)

                I would say no. And certainly the cost is not what the amounts detailed in tenders.

                • SAPeR

                  it would be interesting to request the total of invoices paid to SAP and Consultants post November the 1st….

            • burt 7.1.2.3.1.2

              John Holley

              Do you have a vested interest in the choice being SAP by any chance?

              • John Holley

                Not one bit. When I arrived at the ARC I was highly suspicious of SAP, having heard lots of stories of costly failures. What I discovered was that the system, when put in and not customised to hell, does a really good job.

                SAP is not what costs the money, it is either businesses refusing to alter old business practises therefore needing expensive consultation and/or the consultants who get involved.

              • burt

                John

                I have been involved in a few tenders where SAP go head to head with other products and the thing that always weighs heavily against SAP is the cost and availability of SAP consultants.

                You make a valid point about the business refusing to change to suit the product and that is the classic line propriety old school mentality vendors use. It’s funny how vendors walk in and tell you how flexible their product is then when the rubber hits the road it’s always easier to implement their model.

                I don’t share you view that SAP is the right choice in this neck of the woods where SAP consultants are few and far between.

                • John Holley

                  Cost and availability of consultants was not an issue for Transport as they leveraged existing rate payer investment and council staff with a wealth of SAP experience were core contributors to the implementation.

                  When one looks at the scale of Transport e.g., assets owned/managed, income, data warehouse size (millions of records added monthly).

                  We knew SAP worked well for the ARC, ARTA, ACC and WCC. SAP didn’t have to sell anyone on it. We had existing working systems with all the business processes to support core council financial and HR processes in place!

                  The issue is what the consultants sold the ATA. They weren’t allowed to do that with Transport. Hence Transport’s SAP up and running for a 25th of the cost of Council. Go figure.

  8. rainman 8

    Um, coupla things:
    – Don’ bother with Mark Ford, the culture at ATA kept any bad news far away from him, and he wasn’t very involved in operational things. There for a “higher purpose”, as others have pointed out.
    – High IT costs were no surprise, sure, but that doesn’t necessarily mean incomptence. IT is expensive at an enterprise scale, particularly if you are in transition. The AC environment is large and diverse – far more complex than a conventional sales and logistics company.
    – Most of the AC IT staff are hard working, talented, “good guys”, who are concerned deeply about delivering good and cost-effective service. The teams to do certain functions are, if anything, too small. I’m thinking telephony, security, network – they do currently need more but might not once he dust has settled, and with a headcount freeze contractors are a good and sensible option. The alternative is to hire what they need now and restructure later – expensive and ugly.
    – Mike Foley’s right, in the quoted article, AC and AT are quite different (and AT’s IT is crap).
    – The article is a bit light, keeps talking about a “computer system” like there’s only one. I think they’re conflating the ERP costs with the whole new budget.
    – There is now at least one core ERP system (that’ s the 53m for SAP and related I think), but think about phone systems, standard desktops, email servers, consolidating all of those networks, firewalls, security, library systems (actually, they’ve done well), GIS (so have they), printers and the management thereof, rating systems (a nightmare that will take years to fix), other property information systems, name and address/CRM systems, local board and other governance systems, document management/collaboration, and all of the other specialised functions in all of the diverse bits of council. Mike has an unenviable job, good luck to him.
    – And, if he’s being quoted accurately, John Holley’s talking out of his alternative aperture (and I’d suggest he’s a questionable source for an unbiased opinion, being one of the casualties of the process, anyway).

    As to Rodney: I told some senior ACT people at the start of this that, in my professional opinion, the IT costs being bandied about then were laughably unrealistic. This was obvious to anyone who has had any involvement with enterprise IT, and particularly councils. They did not seem to care too much – but did not contest my view. I suspect cost saving was not the purpose of the exercise otherwise there would have been a proper business case.

    Disclosure: I don’t work there, but I know a lot of the people involved quite well.

    • Tiger Mountain 8.1

      The distilled politics of this are: the Super City as instituted was an undemocratic ACT rush job undertaken in full anticipation of a rightwing mayor and council holding office and subsequent prompt asset stripping of Auckland along with a permanent ‘sinking lid’ expenditure cap.

      So really, inconvenient (while bloody major) detail such as IT capacity and capability was apparently inconsequential to the would be corporatists.

      Sacking full time employees and hiring consultants before anyone really knows where it is all heading is just sick. If you are really some sort of concerned insider Rainman be a bit braver please.

      • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1

        He won’t be “braver”…

        I told some senior ACT people…

        …as he’s an ACT insider and he’s here to defend ACT.

        • rainman 8.1.1.1

          You’re a funny man. I’m a long, long way from an Act insider, and I certainly won’t defend them. I just have friends with a wide range of political views. Most of them are lefties, most just ordinary people, but some are prominent in the Greens, some have close connections to top Nats, and some are movers and shakers in Act (not hard to do, they’re so small). Even some Grey Power/NZ First zealots. Not many core Labourites, now that I think about it, but a good few solid supporters. I’m not going to refuse to associate with any of them because they hold different views to me – god, that would be boring. And they well know, and in a least some cases respect, my divergent views.

          This is why NZ politics is doomed. Too many small minds who think politics is akin to supporting a sports team. Lift your gaze, young man. There is a point to this whole exercise that may be escaping you.

      • rainman 8.1.2

        Well, yes, that’s about the size of it politically.

        Whether it’s sick or not, what you’ve described is the way almost all organisations restructure in the real world – usually incompetently. My outrage will make no change to that.

    • John Holley 8.2

      Happy to use my name. I’m not talking out of any other aperture and am happy to make my comments without the cloak of anonymity.

      I have trails of emails that back up what I have stated. You can easily go back through all the news items to see how the costs have blown out from what Ford/Foley originally said.

      Yes, I missed out on the main role, but then I made a principled decision, to leave the council as I had seen how bad things and knew I had no chance of influencing them.

      So, if you want to slag me, at least provide evidence.

      [lprent: We use pseudonyms here for a reason – see the about. We also don’t allow the anonymity argument here because it makes bugger all sense and tends to freeze discussion in vague accusations that look like authoritarian farces. People here have a wide and frequently surprising range of skills. They also delight in trashing the unsupported assertions – which tends to self-moderate commentary.

      We will moderate within our wide policy and will protect the site if we consider people have gone beyond the bounds or put the site in danger. In this case rainman stated an opinion rather than making a statement of fact so as a moderator I don’t bother with that.

      BTW: In my opinion, I think that you are completely correct about the progressive cost increases. However I think it was more because some people preferred not to know. Much better plausible deniability. ]

      • John Holley 8.2.1

        Ok 🙂

      • rainman 8.2.2

        Actually, I’ll apologise. My comments went too far and were uncalled for.

        • John Holley 8.2.2.1

          Thank you. I know this is a passionate issue for many people. But, as you point out, not enough people care. No one wants to be involved in central or local government until it costs them – fiscally or personally. Then they rapidly become an expert.

  9. ropata 9

    I remember when the ARC was run by the Alliance and directed to sell assets by central government. But they managed to get the Port of Auckland to turn a profit and ran an excellent bus service… all sorts of things that necessitated their removal by the corporate interests. I came across someone’s thesis at Auckland Uni that outlined all the excellent things the Alliance had quietly achieved building up Auckland assets on behalf of the people, no wonder government had to get rid of them

    • burt 9.1

      Yes, the big self serving major parties who like to govern alone do best when the people are poor and govt is rich. The best thing you can do is choose a better voting system that moves us further from FPP which serves the best interests of the major parties ahead of the people.

      • logie97 9.1.1

        rather blow your own argument there mate – your party’s move to amalgamate into one big council (against the wishes of most). People served by the previous councils were generally quite happy with them – it was called community. Perhaps you need to get out your little dark room burt and get some daylight occasionally.

        • ropata 9.1.1.1

          Nothing wrong with amalgamation of services in principle, and an incremental approach to finding efficiencies. For example building inspections and approvals could have been a service provided to the councils by an amalgamated body like watercare or the old ministry of works. IT mergers do not have to be massive and painful either the only reason it is so expensive is because of the artificial speed imposed on the process by rampaging Rodney. Shoulda kept the 7 councils and merged a few of their functions. Max democracy AND max efficiency.

          • logie97 9.1.1.1.1

            agreed ropata. Unifying the Library systems – merging data bases must have been reasonably simple – bit of a bugger all the barcoding though. Needs to be eclectic and managed gradually.

            On a wider issue, schools would appear to have been a disaster with regard to the overnight change from Education Boards to individual BOT’s. There has been a massive and inexcusable waste of dollars in IT with every ‘interested and well meaning’ board member pushing his or her barrow regarding systems and hardware. (And all those fundraising galas where the money was spent on “IT”).
            But then there was community engagement (even if it was blind).

      • burt 9.1.2

        logie97

        You make an assumption I’m a National party supporter.

        People served by the previous councils were generally quite happy with them – it was called community.

        So the ongoing costs of duplication were fine because it supported a model you like, but the one off costs are not becuase it’s not the model you wanted… I can see where your considered opinion about what is best for Auckland and NZ is being driven from.

        • logie97 9.1.2.1

          ACT/National/Libertarian – whatever.
          Why stop at Auckland?
          Why not have every council in New Zealand merged into one, say based in Wellington.
          One big massive computer system?
          Wait a minute, they tried that somewhere else.
          Was it the Wanganui computer?
          It’s all about community burt.
          Cheers.
          Time to get some fresh air.

  10. Afewknowthetruth 10

    Mainstream culture really has become quite hilarious. And very sick. And very sad.

    ‘It will cost the Auckland Council more than half a billion dollars over eight years to build new computer systems to conduct its business’

    The globalised economic system is in the early stages of implosion, and the implosion will accelerate as oil extraction continues to decline…. probably at around 3% per annum..

    Unless something quite extraordinary happens it will be all over well before 2019, long before the proposed computer system is even installed. And Auckland will have almost no business to conduct long before 2019.

    The current rate of demise of fiat currencies suggests the global financial system will collapse before oil depletion really starts to bite, perhaps as early as 2012. The only reason NZ hasn’t gone under already is that other nations are collapsing somewhat faster than NZ.

    Someone is obviously making short term profit out of writing reports and recommendations that are completley detached from reality. No surprise there. Keep ignoring everything that is happning in the real world. That is the game being played, isn’t it?

    ‘We were lied to.’ That’s very true. And we are still being lied to, of course. Indeed, the lies are getting bigger by the day.

    • burt 10.1

      You missed the jump on May 21… So did I.

      • Afewknowthetruth 10.1.1

        And the end of the world won’t be 21st October 2011, either.

        Of course, there is a huge difference between ‘the end of the world’ and ‘the end of the world as we knew it’. Most people don’t (or can’t) distinguish.

        The end of the world as we knew it is occuring right now, but it will take several years for the more devastating consequences to become apparent in NZ. In Greece, Portugal, Ireland, the UK, the US, Japan and about 100 other countries it’s a rather different story.

        ‘How to boil a frog.’

        ‘Are humans smarter than yeast?’

        ‘Humanity’s greatest shortcoming is its failure to understand the exponential function.’

        • RedLogix 10.1.1.1

          Of course, there is a huge difference between ‘the end of the world’ and ‘the end of the world as we knew it’. Most people don’t (or can’t) distinguish.

          That’s the hole that fundamentalists always fall into. They are literalists who cannot make the crucial distinction you are making. Of course the world as we know it will end; and probably within our lifetimes.

          But equally it will have nothing to do with the rapture nonsense being pedalled for the purpose of sucking cash from the credulous.

    • rainman 10.2

      Yes, well, no-one will hire you to write properly honest reports y’know – I’ve tried. Cost me at least one job and just about made me completely unemployable. And a man’s gotta eat.

      The world going to hell in a handcart and 99.99999% of people Do Not Want to know. It’s just not worth the bother to destroy your life trying to tell them.

  11. Draco T Bastard 11

    Rodney Hide screwed up, but he’s irrelevant now.

    No he’s not. He’s still there and he’s politically active.

    What needs to be done is an investigation to determine what happened, who did it and who lied. Once criminal actions have been proven (Fraud, lying as a servant etc) then those who knew need to be tried, those found guilty need their assets stripped under the proceeds of crime act and sent to jail for 10+ years. This includes anyone who was also in government at the time.

    Nobody should be above the law.

    • prism 11.1

      DTB That sort of accountability – wouldn’t that be a startling break-through. Perhaps a mandatory short term in prison, say three months, with no tv or other stimulation except ‘improving’ books including those written with environmental and social improvement as their theme. What a terrible sentence, literally and figuratively.

  12. Samuel Hill 12

    Here is a very interesting and relevant take on the Auckland Super City..

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1105/S00452/winston-peters-speech-the-thin-edge-of-a-disastrous-wedge.htm

  13. prism 13

    My apparently intelligent brother in law was quite taken with ACT’s Rodney Hide. I think the guy’s constant positivity that he had the answers (‘Trust me, I know the way’), and air of confidence seemed to provide a chink of light through the convoluted political problems that always seemed to increase, never lessen.

    One thing apparent is those that hate government most are most keen to insert pipes into the services that it provides, or should for the benefit of all citizens, and suck out money. Much easier than going out and developing some new business providing a good to the country. The money is in termiting and parasitising current businesses. (Good news that Whitcoulls has been hopefully saved before it languished and waned too far as the orphan cinderella of a distant owner who bought it no doubt to cream off its profits, without much interest in its content.)

    That’s not to say that government should do everything itself and is always better than private industry, which it isn’t and moral hazard can build up in any long-running, large enterprise. It’s just that judicious control over core functions should be maintained by government, not devolved, delegated or contracted out to practically unaccountable private enterprise which doesn’t give a stuff about the public, and is controlled by its need to keep alive and profitable. That comes first, and everything else is subservient to that.

    • Jum 13.1

      Totally agree with paragraphs 2 and 3. Not too sure about your brother-in-law though… (smile)

  14. Afewknowthetruth 14

    The wants of corporations began to be put ahead of the needs of people in the seventeenth century.

    We are currently witnessing the final acts of a play that has lasted several hundred years.

    Either the people will take back the planet from the corporations or the corporations will reduce the planet to ashes.

    At the moment the odds are very much in favour of the latter occuring.

  15. Afewknowthetruth 15

    Well Burt., there’s a coincidence for you

    1865. That is roughly the year when humanity started going into overshoot, i.e. when the population started to exceed the long term carrying capacity of the Earth, and resource consumption started to exceed what the Earth could deliver long term.

    The shift from exterminating whales to obtain their oil to drilling holes in the Earth has allowed overshoot to continue for a century-and-a-half, but 150 years is miniscule in the grand scheme of things (humans have been around for around 200,000 years and lived without wide scale industrialism for 199,800 of them).

    We are now getting mighty close to payback time …. running low on energy supplies and wrecking most of the planetary systems that make the world habitable. it will be pretty much all over by 2015, as far as present economic arrangments go. Some parts of the Earth may remain habitable for a humans, depending on how insanely people behave over the next decade.

    All truth passes though three stages.

    First. It is ridiculed.
    Second. It is violently opposed.
    Third. It is universely accepted as being self-evident. -Schopenhauer.

  16. randal 16

    so the super city hasn’t sacved any money at all?
    wodney has just handed his mates a half billion dollar IT contract.
    nice work if you can get it.

  17. tc 17

    Randal nails it, it was never about efficiency and reduced costs just another money grab either by services or assets to those in on the scam.

    The systems never really needed touching until you had a single workable amalgamated ratings model as well as a shed load of other stuff sorted like transport ticketing etc under a deliverable single instance model.

    Only then is it worth considering single systems, plenty of savings in the meantime consolidating service delivery and ironing out nasty infrastructure issues so you implement on a solid consistent foundation once you know what it should do.

    But hey isn’t that one of the royal commissions suggestions after reviewing other experiences around the globe…..Rortney and Sideshow John know better and they’ve got this hollow script they read from to prove it.

    • John Holley 17.1

      Single ratings model was there is work had started earlier. The ARC already rated every property in the region. All that needed to be added was the additional rules by location.

      The core financial and HR systems had to be dealt with prior to day 1, despite the ATA’s early attempts to not touch them – that is why around Nov/Dec 09 there was a rush to get SAP in for the council.

      It is easy to come up with why this had to be. Explain how a manager would deal with leave requests from staff in eight different HR systems? Explain how purchase order workflow would work when staff were in disparate financial systems?

      The real issue was that it is much easier to set up new systems before an organisation exists than after. The “let’s do the minimum and the rest can be done after Nov 1” was a recipe for confusion, operational confusion and cost blowouts.

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