The Department of Building and Housing has been criticised by Parliament’s finance and expenditure select committee for cancelling a project to register licensed builders online when $653,000 had already been spent on it.
The project, which was aimed at allowing potential clients to identify qualified builders, was abandoned, according to department chief executive Katrina Bach, because “issues arose during the design phase in relation to scope and delivery”, according to a report on the committee meeting in the Independent Financial Review.
“When we identified there were some significant problems … around being able to make [the system] work and deliver it in the timeframe, we brought in some expert assistance to help us work through those issues and the end result was I took a decision to terminate the project,” Bach said at the meeting.
Part of the $653,000 spent was a payment to Unisys, which was building the system, for early termination of the project.
The original contract, awarded to Unisys at the end of last year, was worth $1.5 and $1.75 million.
According to The Dominion Post, Bach said “the development of the IT solutions and the development of the business operational policies were occurring very close together.
“I think that is part of reason some of the difficulties arose.”
Tender documents for the abandoned project stated “the main purpose of the register is to enable members of the public and building consent authorities to locate a licensed building practitioner and determine the status and history of the practitioner’s licence.
“The public must therefore be able to conduct a search of the register via the internet or by calling the status and history of the practitioner’s licence.”
The online system was to have been part of a wider department-wide customer management platform, according to the documents.
While the original project has been abandoned, an online builder registration system will still be developed. Department of Building and Housing spokesman Matt Radley told The Dominion Post it will be up and running in March.