11 Dec 2013

Digital archive money 'not well spent'

5:46 pm on 11 December 2013

Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain has admitted millions of dollars worth of taxpayers' money for a digital archive system has not been well spent.

The Government Digital Archive project was launched in 2010 with the aim of digitising and storing New Zealand's public sector records.

Chris Tremain.

Chris Tremain. Photo: NATIONAL PARTY

Labour's Grant Robertson has obtained a document written by the project's manager in October this year, which predicts a budget shortfall of up to $10.8 million and says there has been high staff turnover and low morale.

Mr Robertson said the archive system is in chaos and there has been a budget blow-out.

Mr Tremain said on Wednesday the project was put on hold in February. He concedes that the $7.4 million spent by then was not good value for taxpayers, but denies a budget blow-out.

He said the irony is not lost on him that Internal Affairs has oversight of Government IT services, yet cannot get the digital archiving project rolling.

Mr Robertson said the troubled programme is typical of IT projects under the current Government and there is also a structural problem with archives being merged into the Department of Internal Affairs.

The department's chief executive, Colin MacDonald, defended the programme, saying the digitising of information is a huge problem. He said project was put on hold in February and the department is working on reshaping it.