Supercity or super blowout?

Auckland ratepayers have been left with an unexpected NZ$500 million bill for new computer systems for the new "Supercity", which rolls multiple councils into one.

Auckland ratepayers have been left with an unexpected NZ$500 million bill for new computer systems for the new "Supercity", which rolls multiple councils into one.

The bill is NZ$300 million more than budgeted, which must call into question the economics behind creating the new council. It also highlights the importance of the technological element in any merger and acquisition activity anywhere.

Creating the Supercity was a massive project, bringing various payroll, financial and other systems together, including technology, staff and management. Initially, there was just to be a "veneer" of integration, with the retention of many former systems.

But now, it seems as though the council needs new systems, and must spend four times what the local government minister in charge of the reorganisation project said just a year ago.

No wonder blogger and technology journalist Russell Brown demands that someone be held responsible for this unbudgeted expenditure, and believes that New Zealand was lied to concerning the costs and benefits of the merger.

Echoing the points I made about the NZ$21 million IT failure at the Inland Revenue, we might need to look at the leadership of the body. It is interesting to note that Auckland City has no CIO, but an information systems manager in charge of its technology.

Likely, however, a number of factors have come into play, which will surface when inevitable inquiries are conducted.

The Auckland Supercity was meant to encourage other council amalgamations across New Zealand, but with this NZ$300 million debacle, other councils considering a merger will be all too wary.

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