IRD extends contract with HP for mainframe support

Inland Revenue evaluating request for tender issued to HP and Unisys

Inland Revenue has extended for a year its FIRST mainframe support contract with Hewlett-Packard. The contract was due to expire early in 2013.

In 2011, IRD sought registrations of interest to identify suppliers who could supply the range of mainframe-related services to meet its business requirements for at least the next five years.

A request for tender was issued to HP and Unisys on October 15, 2012. An IRD spokesman says the tender responses are currently being evaluated.

FIRST is the IRD’s core computer system and is now more than 20 years old. A briefing to Inland Revenue Minister Peter Dunne last year said that over the next 10 years, modernising and partially replacing FIRST could cost between $1 billion and $1.5 billion.

Join the Computerworld New Zealand newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.




I'm expecting the govt in its wisdom to outsource this to the Novopay vendor.



The ex-EDS / Unisys / HP team (dedicated individuals) have successfully kept this system running for a number of years against a backdrop of significant change. I hope they will be remembered as a key Stakeholder in terms of enabling a future transition.

Lets hope dedication and commitment can triumph over politics.



To seriously consider scrapping the FIRST system and replacing it with a custom-designed solution via a "sweetheart" deal with CapGemini for a cool 1-1.5Billion NZD over a 5-7 year period is what Einstein would call INSANITY ("doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different (better) results". Concerned Kiwi taxpayers should organize to avert this looming financial disaster before contracts are inked. Surely, there are tax systems in use in other countries which can be modified for NZ purposes (not necessarily a 100% fit) for a much lower cost and in far less time!

As the former (and ONLY) Director - Information Technology in the history of IRD, responsible for fully implementing FIRST and stopping the financial bleeding to Andersen Consulting (now Accenture), I KNOW what I'm talking about. The "blank check" for custom development, written to CapGemini or whoever, will be MUCH higher than anyone dares to mention - but it needn't be. Condolences to Ms. Ferguson!



Whilst MPs Clark and Dunne and just about everyone else (including potential vendors) are jumping on the FIRST mega-bucks "Redevelopment" bandwagon, there is at least one other and better alternative:

The core FIRST suite of applications has done an excellent job in collecting NZ's tax revenue (among some other things) for about 20 years and it can continue to do so for many more years IF:

The core systems are not burdened with add-on functionality for which FIRST was not designed.

FIRST core systems should be stripped of the "bells and whistles" add-ons and restricted to the core functionality for which it was originally designed. Add-ons should be redesigned/re-engineered as separate applications with only mandatory and minimum interfaces to FIRST.

This can be done without endangering core tax revenue collection and having to re-train thousands of IRD employees. As the new add-on systems come on-line, FIRST can be stripped of its extraneous functionality in a low-risk process.

The price tag, risk avoidance and implementation time-line will be much more favourable than the contemplated massive, high-risk, long-term and expensive re-development strategy! But then there's heaps of $$$ to be made here, right?! (and $1.5BillionNZD is just a "drop in the NZ budget bucket", right?!)



Assuming that Disaster Recovery plans are in place and will be effective for the "routine" disasters (earthquakes, floods, fires, extended power outages, hardware failures, etc.), are there any other significant risks which pose a threat to the effective operation of FIRST and reliable collection of tax revenues? Silent Observer has already alluded to such a risk: FIRST "brain drain" of key personnel, caused by forced redundancies and voluntary turnover of staff with in-depth knowledge of FIRST.

The first warning signs of that risk are prolonged implementation times for scheduled software changes, a growing queue of enhancements/fixes and increased "bug" rates due to inadequate testing, especially regression testing.

Only IRD insiders will be aware of these warning signs but if they exists, the risks of an eventual complete FIRST breakdown are substantial. Redevelopment has far too long a delivery time to avert such a disaster. If a "brain drain" has already occurred and is not reversed, the risks of catastrophic FIRST failure loom large, indeed. Without doubt, the wrong heads will roll if that occurs!

How about a long-term contract extension for FIRST mainframe support?



That website is strangely addictive.



"The best website I've ever seen"

- Yeah right!

Looking forward to the TUI billboard

Comments are now closed

A new Dawn for special effects as NZ tech takes on the Planet