Scope-creep strikes again at Immigration NZ

Originally budgeted to cost NZ$80 million, Immigration New Zealand's 'Vision 2015' project to put visa applications online will now cost over NZ$108 million.

The scope of Immigration New Zealand's "Vision 2015" project, formerly known as the Immigration Global Management System (IGMS), has grown again.

The budget for Vision 2015 is now NZ$108.1 million, up from the previous approved budget of NZ$104.8 million. That in turn was an increase from the original project budget of NZ$80 million.

The latest increase, revealed in a table released in response to parliamentary questions, is to fund the inclusion of online medical records in visa applications.

"This project is designed to extend the use of digital records by allowing medical practitioners globally to submit medical information electronically and also streamline the assessment process," an Immigration NZ spokesman said.

"It required additional funding, which was secured from within the Ministry of Business and Innovation's (MBIE's) capital pool, and implementation is progressing well, with over 120 countries using this new system."

The table released to parliament shows that MBIE, of which Immigration NZ is a part, was working on a total of 124 IT projects last year worth nearly NZ$190 million. Vision 2015 was by far the the most expensive, ahead of a NZ$10.8 million IT integration project and the NZ$9.2 million first tranche of a national building consent system.

In December 2013, ZDNet reported that NZ$24.8 million had been added to the IGMS' NZ$80 million budget for functionality not included in the original scope of the project.

At the time, Immigration NZ said that "core capabilities" remained on track to be delivered within the originally approved budget. Functionality not central to a quicker and easier user experience, such as retiring legacy systems, would be completed by the end of 2016.

That core functionality represented "the bulk of IGMS", including online visa applications, identity management, IGMS triage (the applicant risk and value evaluation system), access by approved third parties, assessing and deciding applications, and foreign criminal alerts.

On Monday, the spokesman said Vision 2015 remains on track for delivery at the end of 2015.

Student visa applications have been online since August 2014, and visitor and work visas and a Chinese-language visitor visa form will follow.

The system will also allow third parties such as immigration advisers, education agents, and education providers to lodge visa applications on behalf of their clients.

"Apply-on-behalf capability will become available at the same time as visitor and work visas," the spokesman said.

By the end of 2015, visa applicants will also have individual online immigration accounts.