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Landonline: Incis all over again

Labour
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The budget blowout on the Landonline computer project echoes the Incis disaster and it is time for heads to roll, says Labour's lands spokesperson Jim Sutton.

"At $141 million, with more to come, Landonline is bigger than Incis," Mr Sutton says. "It has already blown its budget by $39 million and we still don't know the final cost."

Landonline is a project by Land Information New Zealand to put land title and survey data into a computer database.

In 1997 it was budgeted at $95 million. It was contracted to EDS for $102 million and now the first stage alone is budgeted at $141 million. Estimates for stage two have been approved by a Cabinet committee but not disclosed.

"Already users of the system have learned they will have to pay an extra $13-$17 million in user charges because of cost overruns and delays. They are also being asked to pay a $7000 software license fee that will put the service beyond the reach of many.

"There is obviously something very wrong with the way government departments like the Police and LINZ buy computer systems. By contrast the new fisheries registry system, commissioned by the industry, looks set to cost $10 million despite being estimated at $36 million by the Ministry of Fisheries.

"National's ministers clearly get over-excited on IT shopping sprees. They order whizz-bang gear before it has been invented, then express surprise when it arrives late and overpriced. This problem doesn't arise as often when people are spending their own money instead of putting their hands in the taxpayer's pocket.

"The lessons are first, don't order a Ferrari when what you need is a Honda, and second don't let National's 'brat pack' get hold of your credit card."

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