The NZ Herald’s number one fanboi gums Auckland Council COO for $101M overspend


Bernard Orsman, as we imagine him, taking it to the Auckland Council

Bernard Orsman just can’t bring himself to bite the hand that feeds him

An Auckland Council IT project originally budgeted to cost $71 million should be delivered for the new cost of $172 million, says a senior council executive.

“I’m not going to go through another media expose on NewCore in 18 months’ time,” chief operating officer Dean Kimpton told the council’s audit and risk committee on Tuesday.

Last month, the Herald revealed the soaring cost of the NewCore IT project, which is key to delivering better services and promised savings to the Super City model.

Mr Kimpton said the NewCore system would simplify issues that upset Aucklanders, such as not being able to book learn-to-swim programmes online.

He outlined steps the council was taking to ensure the revised cost and deadlines were met.

Call me a cynic, but in 18 months we’ll be talking about it not being completed, and the need to “re-purpose” more money to close the gap.   Spending another $101M in 18 months isn’t that hard, but actually producing a working IT system is.  

These include a new governance, leadership and management structure and escalating matters to the executive leadership team at the first sign of trouble.

All contractors on the project, he said, would get paid only for delivering outcomes, adding the consequences for non-delivery on time were “very, very clear”.

Asked by councillor Cameron Brewer if the project would be delivered on time and on budget, Mr Kimpton said the important thing was to deliver on the new budget.

Message:  there will be no more money, come hell or high water (/TUI), but even Kimpton isn’t going to go out on a limb by promising it will be on time.

Of course, there is on time, and then there is funtional…

The IT project, which was supposed to be completed by June 2016, now has two key dates for implementation – June 2016 and June 2017.

This is where the compliant New Zealand Herald fails its readers, most of whom are Auckland City rate payers:

While the costs of NewCore have increased by $100 million, these costs will come out of the $454 million budget for IT in a new 10-year budget.

The whole budget blowout is being justified as coming out of the IT budget anyway, so where’s the harm?

The harm is that the rate payers are getting a whopping $101M less value for money.  That’s $101M that was earmarked for something else that will never be delivered.

The fact that Orsman or his editors aren’t demanding blood on the floor is indicative of a situation where the Fourth Estate is failing its readers.



– NZ Herald


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  • Markus Aurelius

    What did the audit and risk committee have to say about Len dropping loads all over council offices? Who’s on it? Is it just a lame duck?

  • Pluto

    Alarm bells are ringing all over the place.
    An IT project, already delayed and with a 240% cost blowout projected at this stage, with a final implementation date still 30 months away.
    This is enough to make the blood drain from any private enterprises CEO’s face, but don’t worry good folks of Auckland, Looney Len’s in charge of this ship.

    • kayaker

      And by the time they get half way to 30 months, the world would’ve changed.

    • Correct. Because real companies go broke when they do this. Councils just take more money from your pocket and give those who put you in the mess pay rises, promotions and bonuses.

  • LabTested

    …issues that upset Aucklanders, such as not being able to book learn-to-swim programmes online.

    as an Aucklander there are many issues that upset me & I can tell you that this is not one of them.

  • Max

    What is wrong with picking up a telephone and making a booking with one of the pool attendants on the council payroll?
    Seems to me all that it needs to hike the price is say the magic mysterious symbolic word IT!
    Remember the rort carried out at the Southland Health board a couple of years ago when the IT ” expert” swindled the system for millions.
    That’s the problem when starry eyed simpletons get elected to boards and council offices.

  • If you tried running a business in the same style the simpletons do – it would be broke in 12 months (at best)
    Lucky they have no accountability and a bottomless pit of ratepayer money to dig into
    How many parks can be maintained and new playgrounds built for $100 million ? But more importantly at some stage we may be able to book a swimming lesson online

    • I don’t like swimming so not being able to book a swimming lesson on line has no attraction for me; can I have my $100.00 plus contribution as part of my rates back in cash please?

      • I.M Bach

        I argued along the same lines when it came to footy paddocks; it got me nowhere. If footy is so great it would be self funding. Councils should stick to sewers, stormwater, rubbish and the like. Core items. As for art…don’t get me started.

  • kayaker

    The reason Mr Kimpton won’t be going through another expose in 18 months’ time is because he won’t be there.

    When I read the article earlier today, a couple of things jumped out: “All contractors on the project, he said, would get paid only for delivering outcomes” …Dean is confusing ‘outcomes’ with deliverables and outputs. Correct me if I’m wrong any IT contractors out there – but with IT skills in short supply and in high demand, I doubt whether there’s anyone who will work for nothing and only be paid on ‘outcomes’. Outcomes are goal posts that can keep moving.

    As someone else has pointed out in this thread, he doesn’t seem confident that deadlines will be met.

    Had a chuckle about ‘the issues that upset Aucklanders’. Mr Kayaker reckons it would be quicker to send a kid on a bike with a note.

  • Michael_l_c

    Of course it will go over budget again. With $170m in the hole what can the council do apart from what the police did with the INCIS Project, walk away? Then build a new one, one part at a time & bolt them together as you go. Don’t start a new project until u know it will do the job. Plan.
    Don’t suppose there are any other councils out there with a system that works, UK, USA, Canada?
    Who had the overseas junket for this?

  • Simon Brown

    Oh yeah absolutely, not being able to book learn-to-swim programmes online is one of my daily frustrations. What effing planet are these retards on?

  • Teletubby

    I taught myself and SQL from books, if they like I could belt out an online swimming lesson booking package during my Xmas holidays for say $100,000

  • Just a thought …

    oh, now I get it … you wanted an I.T system that actually works…. well why didn’t you say that first …… sorry but that will be another $100 mil…….

    • I.M Bach

      You are so right, and it wouldn’t work in any world other than the one the ratepayers or taxpayers foot the bill for. In the real world…if you promised a product and it failed or wasn’t delivered you be dragged through the courts with all manner of consequences but when the public coughs the bucks…..just screw ’em for more!

  • Brian of Mt Wellington

    A 142% budget blow out seriously deserves the sack. Just think if this happens to the CRL which it will. Incompetence must be the word of the year for the Auckland Council and its leader.

  • Richard

    Been in IT for many years.

    What typically happens is:

    1. Companies believe their business issues are ‘unique’. They’re not, never have been. Off the shelf software that is available that is suitable for different industries / sectors will do the job.

    2. SAP is one of the biggest scams going. Cost blowouts are the norm, not the exception. SAP promotes ‘customisation’ – playing on customer egos – read ‘extra cost’ for no real gain.

    3. All IT projects are initially under costed – to get them under the (customer board and public) approval radar – with the project going cap in hand later (once point of no return reached) for additional funding.

    So what is happening in the Council is not new. It is however unforgivable. The Council spends millions on ‘consultants’ who should know better. If they claim otherwise, or they are clearly not up to asking the hard questions of vendors, they should be fired.