Building’s $10k register fills gap left by $1.2m failure

Last year, the department abandoned a project to build a licensed practitioners' system, at a cost of $653,000

A searchable register of licensed building practitioners, built in-house by the Department of Building and Housing at a cost of just $10,200, will be online from March 1.

Last year, the department abandoned a project to build a licensed practitioners’ system, at a cost of $653,000. It paid Unisys $400,000 when a $1.2 million contract to build the system was terminated by mutual agreement.

“The settlement related to outstanding invoices at termination,” says department spokesman Matt Radley.

Radley says the department will revisit the provision of an online registration system once the operation of the licensing scheme has been fully bedded-in. The new system is partially manual, with simplified IT support.

Parliament’s finance and expenditure select committee severely criticised the department over the failed project.

“The department has revised its IT project management, and it now requires business cases for IT projects to include a robust cost-benefit analysis, analysis of return on any investment, and a feasibility report,” the committee said.

“We were concerned that plans for this failed project had not included these elements, but were assured that a full business case for the project was completed.

“The department told us that the cost of this mistake will eventually be paid for from income derived from builders’ levies. We are not pleased with the cost this may impose on licensed building practitioners and their clients.”

Radley says the department has developed new IT project-management policies and procedures.

“These have been peer reviewed by the State Services Commission and Audit New Zealand, and their feedback has been incorporated in the policies and procedures,” he says.

“These policies and procedures are now being implemented.”

The department separately put out a tender for a document management system.

Radley says the analysis of tenders is now complete and a decision is expected in March.

He says the department had received a number of proposals for the licensed building practitioners’ scheme, ranging in price from $750,000 to $1.6 million.

“The department considered the Unisys proposal best met the requirements,” he says.

Computerworld understands the department was put under ministerial pressure to deliver the practitioners system by last November, when the minister, Clayton Cosgrove, announced such measures would act as a future hedge against leaky buildings.

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