Land Information NZ (Linz) senior management acknowledges there are delays in processing property transfers for Wellington users of the Landonline system.
This follows criticism from lawyers and land transfer agents last week.
But Linz blames ISPs and phone lines for the only truly technical glitch attributable to the computer system and network. Neil Grant, principal of transfer agent Grant Agency, says Landonline’s Citrix server has fallen over on a number of occasions, meaning users could not access the system, or were cut off halfway through a task, necessitating rework.
Landonline technical spokesman Richard Leeke acknowledges that the server dropped out “a couple of times last year”, but says most of the problems were caused by network outages attributable to the ISP. Even a momentary outage leads the Citrix server to drop the connection, says Leeke.
Another Linz support staffer blames Xtra’s routing protocol, a problem much discussed last year, but Leeke says the initial interruption could be due simply to noise on the line.
“We are following up these matters with ISPs in cases where a pattern has been established,” he says.
While some of the operational delays relate to a backlog connected with the conversion of records, other delays are due to Wellington Linz staff “adjusting to the system”, says operations general manager Carolina Gartner.
She denies that this may reflect inadequacies in training. No matter how much training is given, getting used to the system is still “a significant step”, both for staff and customers, she says.
Dealing with the computer-based system involves “more work than [submitting transactions] manually,” says Grant. Delays in processing are compounded by errors emanating from Linz; for example, documentation on transferred properties has been sent back with the vendor’s details attached, not the new owner’s. Correction adds to the time delay, says Grant.
Some transfer deals, he understands, have fallen through because of the delay. Linz has instituted “urgency” procedures to prevent undue delay in such critical cases.
In the other direction, about 30% of records submitted to Linz by agents and solicitors contain errors which prevent them from being accepted for processing by Landonline. These are returned to the submitter for correction. This rejection happened under manual procedures too, says Gartner. “The only difference is that perhaps the computer system is less forgiving.”
However, she says Linz is not rejecting submitted documents for trivial errors. Operators of a government department system have been known to do that in the past, decreeing, for example, that the standard abbreviation for “hundred” was “hd” and sending back any documents with different abbreviations as a means of crude “customer training”.
“We are not doing that,” says Gartner. However, pressed to say whether any documentation is being returned for mistyped entries whose intended meaning could be readily understood, she says it is not Linz staff’s job to second-guess such corrections.
There are standards established by the Surveyor-General’s office as to what errors are deemed “critical”, and any submission containing errors of this standard must be returned.
Linz is putting on another 25 staff nationwide to help clear the problems, Gartner says. Though distributed through the country, any of them will be able to work on Wellington problems as demand dictates.