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Business

New Zealand Govt CIO resigns

New Zealand Government chief information officer and deputy State Services commissioner Dr Laurence Millar has resigned following criticism of his handling of Government Shared Network consulting contracts worth NZ$7.5 million.
Written by Juha Saarinen, Contributor on

New Zealand Government chief information officer and deputy State Services commissioner Dr Laurence Millar has resigned following criticism of his handling of Government Shared Network consulting contracts worth NZ$7.5 million.

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Laurence Millar
(Credit: Qld Govt)

An independent inquiry chaired by ex-diplomat Neil Walter found numerous irregularities in the manner the GSN contracts were awarded. Amongst these was Millar failing to disclose an earlier association with Voco, a consulting company in Auckland, that was also alleged to have been awarded the GSN contracts without due tendering process being followed. However, the Walter inquiry found no evidence of deliberate wrongdoing on Millar's part.

Voco director Michael Foley confirmed that his firm was involved with the GSN work since 2004, but declined to comment on Millar's resignation beyond saying the Walter inquiry "made comments on technical irregularities" in the way the contracts were handled.

Foley stressed that the inquiry made it clear that Voco had done nothing wrong, and that Walter's report refuted allegations about the consultancy's performance and conduct around the GSN contracts.

The GSN was a NZ$28 million project designed to link New Zealand government agencies with a high-speed secure network. It was scrapped by the incoming National government in February this year, after the new State Services Minister Tony Ryall slammed it as "financially unsustainable".

Ryall said the government wrote off almost NZ$11 million in running costs for the GSN project in the 2007-08 financial year, and since it became operational in 2007, it lost almost NZ$700,000 a month.

An industry source in Wellington who wished to remain anonymous blamed the "stifling processes at the State Services Commission" for the GSN failure and said Millar was "trying to get things done, being fresh from the private sector". The source believed the GSN project should've worked and the reason it didn't was more to do with "competence and not probity" on the part of the consultants.

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