Capital and Coast IT project is 'healthy'

Daily newspaper report was based on 'selective leaks', says DHB

Contrary to a daily newspaper report that the cost of a computer project at Capital and Coast District Health Board has blown out by almost $4 million, the project will come in at around $100,000 under budget, says IT head Andre Snoxall.

The Dominion Post also claimed last week that the project was behind schedule and beset with problems.

The board is moving from what Snoxall describes as a clunky old IT system with eight different operating systems, nine database platforms and five hardware platforms, to a single unified operating system environment based on Citrix.

It will have 2,000 users and a network of 17 physical sites.

Snoxall says the cost of continuing to maintain the old environment for five years would have been at least $17.5 million, while the savings made by shifting to the new environment are projected to be $820,000.

“Only one year of the project has been completed thus far, and we came in under budget by about $500,000. We expect to be on budget in the second year.”

Snoxall says someone at Capital and Coast had been selectively leaking information “because they didn’t like the fact that we were eliminating Novell from the network”.

The Dominion Post says the original 2002 funding proposal for the first year of the project to install the integrated Citrix/Microsoft put the total cost at $14.85 million over five years.

But, it says, the year-three funding request now puts the figure at $18,788,249 over five years — a 27% increase.

Snoxall says the original capital expenditure estimate didn’t include a network upgrade and replacement, plus the replacement of 500 printers.

“We subsequently pulled that into the central capex.”

That meant a change in scope of $2.8 million over five years.

“We were under budget last year, and I estimate we’ll be $100,000 under budget by the end of the project,” Snoxall says.

Snoxall confirmed that the project was delayed in both its first and second years. Due to begin in June 2002, it did not start till January 2003.

According to Snoxall, there was then a whole year where little happened because the increased capital spend had to go through a lengthy approval process: first the board, then the regional boards, followed by the Health Ministry and then the minister.

There have been some technical problems but those issues have been with the old environment, Snoxall says.

“We did have a four-hour failure with Exchange recently but that was due to the software that integrates it back to the old Groupwise servers.”

The project — known as ICE — is scheduled for completion in June 2007. This week, Snoxall expects to get approval for the third year’s funding.

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