Probe follows Incis accord (New Zealand - computer snafu) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Link New Zealand News from The Press - Wednesday, October 27, 1999


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Probe follows Incis accord

by Martin van Beynen

A settlement between IBM and the Government over the police Incis computer debacle has cleared the way for a full inquiry into the project.

IBM has withdrawn its $75 million claim against the Crown and agreed to pay $25 million as a settlement.

The police will pay IBM $18 million held up by the pending legal action and IBM will give the police, at no cost, the work it has done on an alternative option it put forward to complete the Incis contract but which was rejected.

The settlement is not the final chapter in the Incis saga. Prime Minister Jenny Shipley yesterday announced a full inquiry "into issues raised by the management and administration of the Incis contract".

"Some major questions remain and I am determined that everyone will learn from this experience," she said. "It will certainly look into all aspects of performance of relevant public agencies."

The inquiry's membership and terms of reference will be considered by Cabinet on Monday. It will report back on May 1, 2000.

Police Commissioner Peter Doone said he welcomed the opportunity to fully put the police side of the issues surrounding Incis.

"It is now appropriate to look at the whole subject and to determine the lessons to be learned by the public and private sectors," he said.

Police and other officials were working hard on "the way forward" but firm decisions were not expected until early next year, he said.

Incis, a national crime information project that began in 1994, was plagued by delays and extra expenses until IBM aborted the project in August, prompting a lawsuit from the Government and a counter-claim from IBM.

Finance Minister Sir William Birch said the cost of the project and the benefits of Incis had been "profoundly misunderstood by most critics".

The disposal of the legal action allowed the Government to release figures which showed the total cost of Incis to October 1 had been $107.5 million.

The $25 million settlement with IBM reduced that cost further to $82.5 million, Sir William said.

The biggest cost in relation to Incis had been a $65 million upgrade of police technology, including personal computers, laptops, printers, servers, and a mainframe.

The upgrade would have been necessary regardless of Incis.

The costs of application software and software development was only $18.7 million, he said.

IBM spokesman Jason Dykes said the settlement allowed both parties to avoid the expense of a drawn-out legal battle and let IBM resume a normal relationship with the Government. IBM had made no profit on the project but had fulfilled its obligations, he said.

Police Association head Greg O'Connor said the inquiry "should help us put the Incis debacle behind us.

"Police officers have been dissatisfied with the police administration's performance over Incis and are keen to have their roles scrutinised. We eagerly await the result of the inquiry," he said.

Labour police spokesman George Hawkins said police and the public had suffered badly as a result of the extra money poured into Incis and the mishandling of the project had not been made good by the settlement.

-- Homer Beanfang (, October 28, 1999



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Incis delayed crackdown on gangs-police

by Martin van Beynen

A crackdown on New Zealand gangs was curtailed by extra spending on the aborted Incis police computer, the Police Association says.

A 1998 Audit Office report released last week shows money needed for frontline policing and action against gangs was redirected to pay for ballooning Incis expenses.

Police bosses diverted money from replacing the police's fleet of cars, increasing electronic surveillance of gangs, and updating the police radio system, the report says.

Police Association president Greg O'Connor said his members had always been assured that other police resources were not suffering because of extra funding required by Incis.

"We are really angry about this, particularly because we know gangs have become more established while money has been diverted to Incis," he said. The association had been warning about gangs and the failure to devote adequate resources to controlling them for years, he said.

"The failure has resulted in a more entrenched gang crime problem and that will be a legacy of the commissioner," he said.

Spending on electronic surveillance equipment had been needed to ensure police kept up with technology used by the gangs.

Although the police fleet of cars was being upgraded it was still an old fleet and a direct result of delayed spending on transport caused by Incis, he said.

The Audit Office report showed a $32 million budget for new police cars was cut in half over two years. New police stations were also postponed because of spending on Incis.

The idea of manipulating the computer's depreciation once it was in use to fund other projects was dangerous, the Audit Office also warned.

The Incis project was grounded after the completion of stage one which cost the police about $105 million. Computer giant IBM walked away from the project in August and is now defending a Government law suit.

The Press was unable to contact the commissioner's office last night.

A report on Incis by the Justice and Law Reform Select Committee, which was critical of police handling of the project, was released last week. The parliamentary committee had access to the Audit Office report.

-- Homer Beanfang (, October 28, 1999.

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