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Incis report slams government

2000 web siteAbject failure of ministerial and government oversight has left the police with the legacy of a half-finished, multi-million dollar computer, and the taxpayer exposed to a $75 million lawsuit, Labour justice spokesperson Phil Goff and Labour police spokesperson George Hawkins said today.

The Labour members of the Justice and Law Reform Select Committee made their comments following the release of the Committee's Report on the CARD and INCIS Inquiry.

"The multi-million dollar failure of INCIS, five years in the making, is a damning indictment of the National Government's abject failure to perform its most basic function - to manage and control the expenditure of public money," Phil Goff and George Hawkins said.

"Police management, from the Commissioner down, were clearly not up to managing a project as large and complex as INCIS, and were seemingly incapable of controlling either the 'technology creep' or the relationship with the prime contractor. These management failings and the fragility of the undertaking were identified repeatedly from 1996 on. Ministers knew what was going on but failed to act.

"The focus of the Committee's report is on the accountability of the Government and its departments. This does not however excuse the shortcomings of the prime contractor. The culpability of IBM in failing to complete the project and meet its contractual obligations will be determined in due course by the Courts.

"The project was clearly off the rails and police management were out of their depth from very early on. National's absenteeism and failure to perform their duty has cost the taxpayer millions of dollars, and placed at risk tens of millions more through the current litigation.

"The repercussions of this debacle will be felt for years within the police, the justice system, and the wider public service.

Phil Goff and George Hawkins pointed to the proliferation of oversight committees and reports, which apparently made little or no difference to the projects' malaise.

"As major problems were identified and failed to be resolved, from early 1996 onwards, the responsible ministers set up committee after committee to 'monitor' the project yet no effective action was taken to address the project's failings.

"By the time National reconstituted its Ad Hoc Ministerial Group in June this year, no fewer than 6 ministerial, Cabinet, departmental or officials' committees were supposed to be monitoring and controlling the project.

"Every time one of these committees was confronted with inescapable evidence that the project was in real trouble, it ordered a report. There were at least 6 major consultants' reports, as well as quarterly status reports, monthly progress reports, independent quarterly internal audits - virtually every report issued the same warnings, yet none of the Cabinet Ministers supposedly controlling the project acted on these warnings.

"In our system of government, it is Cabinet's role to approve all capital expenditure of this magnitude. It is then Cabinet and the responsible ministers' roles to monitor that expenditure on behalf of the taxpayer.

"The project was flawed from the outset, based on fanciful claims and lacking in management expertise. The massive risks, and likely outcome if the risks were not addressed, were predicted at least as early as 1997. National took no effective action whatsoever. Now the taxpayer is left with a half-finished multi-million dollar computer of questionable value, and a potentially costly law-suit," Phil Goff and George Hawkins said.

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