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?