Joint border system tipped to cost up to $200 million

Official estimate of $120 million may be exceeded, sources say

The Joint Border Management System, funding for which was granted in last week's Budget, is provisionally costed at $120 million, but industry sources say the eventual cost could be as high as $200 million.

A Budget allocation of $75.9 million has currently been made for the first phase of the development, encompassing intelligence and risk management.

The request for information (RFI) for the system, known as JBMS, takes the form of two requests: one for potential suppliers of software for the first phase of the project and one for prime-contractor responsibility.

The prime-contractor part of the RFI includes programme and project management, technology architecture, integration of the software offerings — which may come from a number of suppliers — and testing. The suppliers in the first RFI will provide resources to the designated prime contractor.

The JBMS is aimed at better regulating processes at the country’s borders and will replace systems as much as 15 years old. Customs is the lead agency for the development, but it also involves the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s biosecurity division and the Labour Department’s immigration function. Other functions of the joint system involve Maritime New Zealand, the NZ Food Safety Authority (to be merged with MAF on July 1 this year) and the Department of Internal Affairs as NZ custodian of the identity standard recorded primarily in travellers’ passports.

Key components of the existing core Customs system, CusMod, are obsolete, says Customs. They are written in Powerbuilder over Sybase databases and are at increasing risk of support withdrawal. Since the system is built around tightly-coupled and interlinked modules, failure of one component could be a threat to the integrity of the whole. Similar problems affect MAF’s Quantum system, also written in Powerbuilder, with SQL databases. Some MAF border processes are still manual and JBMS will automate them.

This is designed to identify cargo, passengers and craft that present a high risk to the integrity of New Zealand’s borders while facilitating the passage of low-risk people and items, Customs says.

The priority of Tranche 1 is to “establish the base infrastructure of JBMS whilst delivering immediate business benefit to Customs and MAF”, says the prime-contractor RFI To this end, it says, the aim is to replace the highest risk components of the current systems and implement new functions that provide economic benefit and improve the agencies’ functioning.

The first stage will also include implementation of the Trade Single Window (TSW), a portal for industry users including importers, exporters, customs brokers, ports, airlines and freight forwarders. “The TSW will allow industry users to register with border agencies, lodge declarations for clearance, make clearance status enquiries, and view fees and standard charges,” the RFI says.

The new system is to be designed to a service-oriented architecture, which should make the parts of the system more independent.

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