It’s a disgrace that the supercity agenda is being foisted on Auckland undemocratically, and it is an additional disgrace that it is being bulldozed through uncosted. The government cannot tell Aucklanders what this reorganisation is going to cost them on their rates bills – though some estimates put it at over $550 each. Whatever happened to “no taxation without representation”? Whatever happened to National’s concerns about uncosted proposals before the election? How times change.
Here’s one significant cost that may well have been underestimated so far – the costs of integrating the disparate information systems of the current councils:
Merging council IT systems to create an Auckland “supercity” will cost the best part of $200 million and could take eight years to complete, according to consultancy firm Deloitte.
Mr Hitch says Deloitte has investigated the likely costs and timeframe of the IT systems merger. Others’ assumptions about the size and complexity of the task are simplistic, he says. “It’s going to take about four to eight years. If you look at large complex mergers, such as the Fonterra merger – they merged a long time ago and they’re still slowly rolling different parts of the business on to other parts of systems. This is going to take at least that long.” Mr Hitch says there are about 300 IT staff across the eight councils and this number could increase as the merger progresses.
Later in the piece a Microsoft manager tries to put the counter argument – “There will be costs associated with integration. But over time you’ll reduce the total costs associated with running 17 systems. You need to look at the picture in two to three years time” – but this underestimates the four to eight year time scale described by Deloitte. Aucklanders will be paying for this for a long time before they see benefits, if any, and the government is at the very least negligent in being unable to say what the reorganisation is going to cost ratepayers.