18 Dec 2013

DoC admits failings over IT blow-out

8:11 pm on 18 December 2013

The Department of Conservation has acknowledged it failed when handling an IT project that blew out by $2 million.

A review found ineffective governance and maintenance caused the over-run in a new land information database.

Documents released to the Taxpayers' Union lobby group show that a joint project between the Department of Conservation and Land Information New Zealand is still not fully operational despite an original launch date of February 2012.

The project to create the database was budgeted at $6 million, but documents show that DoC has now budgeted an extra $2 million to fix problems with the system.

A review of the project carried out by Deloitte says ineffective governance and maintenance means the project has, so far, not been a success.

The department's director-general of conservation, Lou Sanson, told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme on Wednesday he accepts that the project could have been handled better.

However, Mr Sanson said it would not be wise to walk away from it, as the system is critical to the management of New Zealand's natural land. A special team is trying to get the project running by the middle of 2014.

The Taxpayers' Union says it is not confident that DoC a has learned its lesson. Executive director Jordan Williams told Checkpoint it didn't expect the review to be so damning.

Mr Williams said the union had known there was a budget blow-out - but not to the extent the review revealed.