MSD waits on e-proc pilot results

The Ministry of Social Development will not commit to the e-government unit's chosen online procurement system for the long-term.

The Ministry of Social Development will not commit to the e-government unit’s chosen online procurement system for the long-term.

While pointing out that the ministry and its predecessors have backed the government e-procurement trial since its inception, MSD financial operations manager Ted Dean isn’t going to bind the department to the solution.

That decision is still dependent on a pilot MSD is scheduled to enter later this month, Dean says. “During the course of the pilot, we will analyse the benefits and costs and put together a business case.”

The Department of Work and Income, now part of the MSD “super-ministry” that also includes the functions of the Ministry of Social Policy and the Child Youth and Family department, was chosen as the lead agency to start off the move to online procurement last year, running its own pilot with Oracle-CGEY as one contender and an EDS-led consortium as the other. The former was the winner in the eventual race for the whole-of-government system, but Dean says DWI/MSD in its own right never made a final choice between the two. “Our pilot was overtaken by the whole-of-government one, so we didn’t make a final selection,” he says.

Did the whole-of-government project make the correct choice as MSD sees the situation from its own pilot? “Well, since I’m on the [whole-of-government] steering committee, I’ll have to say yes”.

Despite DWI running its own pilot and having a previous intranet-based e-procurement system operating from its Rotorua office, it is better for MSD to become part of the whole-of-government trial, Dean says, “because we can all learn from each other and improve the system and the way we use it”.

Peter Clemerson, IT manager for the Fire Service, another of the slated pilot departments, confirms the service will be going ahead with the pilot, starting later this month.

“We will be making sample procurements, as other agencies will be, and we have to make a decision by September [on long-term use of the system]. We have to decide first whether it works technically, and I have every confidence that it will. Then whether it is a good business case; whether the discounts that we get are likely to be more than the subscription we will have to pay.”

The level of the subscription has not yet been settled, says e-government unit spokesman Greg Nicholls. He was unwilling to say even on what basis the system might be charged for.

“We have some principles in place, but it still has to be discussed with the [users’] group, and it would be unfair to them to say anything at this point.”

Fisheries Ministry deputy chief executive Peter Murray, who was on the committee that chose the system, says his department is ready to go with the pilot as soon as it gets the timetable for implementation.

Inquiries of Inland Revenue’s plans brought forth no response by deadline.

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