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MSD's Computer System "Complex and Fragile"

17 March 2004

Ministry Of Social Development
Computer System "Complex And Fragile"

New Zealand First wants the Government to explain why “departmental politics, a dysfunctional management structure and a horrifying potential cost” are behind the Ministry of Social Development’s inability to sort out its computer systems.

Rt Hon Winston Peters claimed in Parliament today that the MSD computer system had become so old, complex and fragile that there was a risk it would fail to deliver $12 billion in payments to hundreds thousands of beneficiaries and superannuitants.

“The MSD’s computer system, Swiftt, is a disaster waiting to happen and there has already been a close call in the past month.

“The computer system appears to have grown to a level of complexity that no one person understands exactly what it does and it is just limping along.”

Mr Peters said that the cost of replacing the system could now be in the vicinity of half a billion dollars and that it appeared to be a far worse problem than the failed police INCIS project.

“The most serious issue is that the ministry has still not made a decision about a replacement system and as it will take three to six years to implement whatever is decided, there is a huge potential for non-payment of all benefits and superannuation payments.

“A consulting group warned the ministry years ago that there was a risk of anarchy if the system failed because of the financial hardship it would cause and the risk to the banking system.

“The country needs to know exactly what is happening with the MSD computer system and when the Government will do something to allow public confidence in it, said Mr Peters.


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