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The buck has to stop somewhere

It is an outrage that the Inland Revenue Department in New Zealand has canned a $21 million IT project and no one is taking the blame.

It is an outrage that the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) in New Zealand has canned a $21 million IT project and no one is taking the blame.

IRD halted the installation of a new software system to manage the country's student loans, claiming it couldn't make the changes in time to handle legislative changes.

Instead of installing Oracle, the IRD will now simply upgrade its existing first system. What an almighty and expensive balls-up!

You'd think there would be calls of mea culpa. But Peter Dunne, the revenue minister in charge of the IRD, has instead made the following startling comment:

"I am not looking at it in terms of any individuals to blame."

Surely, a major project must have systems in place to ensure that someone is in charge, that someone is responsible, that someone takes the credit if it succeeds, that someone carries the can if it does not? Not to have such a person is a massive failure of governance.

Yet it seems no individual was responsible and an almighty row has broken out over this.

New Zealand has in recent years been spared the massive IT failures we have seen in the past or in more recent times in Britain and Australia.

However, a massive IT failure from way back, a police computer known as INCIS, achieved legendary status.

The controversy over it dragged on for years, and you would hear this industry cliche: "No one gets ever fired for buying IBM!"

Government inquiries produced reports on INCIS, with recommendations to avoid a repeat of such failure, looking at governance, risk management and a whole host of issues.

Were such recommendations carried out at IRD? And if not, why not?

As many are asking, surely for a massive project implementation, someone is in charge? Did it have a project manager?

What about the former CIO, and those who took over his role when his post was disestablished?

Did that reorganisation have anything to do with the problems with the project? Where does the buck stop, if anywhere?

Alas, I have no answers, only questions and hopefully in time someone will get to the bottom of this disaster.