Auditor General Office denies it is investigating Snapper

Government watchdog says it is conducting a 'short and focused' study into integrated ticketing system

Headlines suggesting that NFC services provider Snapper is under investigation by the Auditor General’s Office (AGO) have caused “confusion” as to what is actually going on, says AGO.

The New Zealand Herald reported yesterday that Snapper was under scrutiny by Auditor General Lyn Provost, with an investigation being conducted on the integrated ticketing system.

The AGO says there has been some confusion in the media, and denies there is currently an official investigation into Snapper.

It says it is conducting a study on Auckland’s integrated ticketing system, which was described as “short and focused” in the organisation’s 2011/12 Annual Plan.

According to the document, the study will focus on a transport issue and provide assurance to parliament whether it was being managed correctly. The Auckland integrated ticketing scheme was a suggested as an option.

“We are not working on an inquiry or investigation into Snapper,” says a spokesperson for the AGO.

The AGO will not make comment on the contents of the study until it is published.

Meanwhile Labour’s transport spokesperson, Te Atatu MP Phil Twyford, has requested the Auditor General investigate whether former transport minister Steven Joyce intervened on behalf of Snapper to have its system used alongside Thale’s in the $98 million Auckland integrated ticket system.

“We should expect our politicians to make decisions in the public interest, and not screw the scrum on behalf of private interest,” says Twyford on a recent Labour blog post.

Current Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee denies Joyce was involved in the decision, saying that would be a decision made by NZTA and Auckland Transport.

In 2009 French military and securty company Thales won the contract to build an NFC based ticketing system for Auckland. A year later, NZTA and Auckland Transport allowed Snapper to install its system alongside Thale’s if it could provide full integration and in return for use of back-office systems to be used in other cities in New Zealand.

Snapper now has until November 30 to fully integrate its system with Thales’, or it and sister company NZ Bus, risks losing a $56 million government subsidy for public transport.

In a scathing email leaked from Thales, the French company says Snapper failed to “deliver a functional bus system that meets the ratified standard.”

Snapper CEO Miki Szikszai told Computerworld these comments were made by a competitor who stood to gain from Snapper’s bad press.

He would not comment further.

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