SSC denies wasting public money

The State Services Commission has rebutted accusations of overspending in IT areas levelled by a source hard to identify.

The State Services Commission has rebutted accusations of overspending in IT areas levelled by a source hard to identify.

Someone identified only as “John Brown” alleges in an email to Computerworld and a variety of other media that the SSC has, among other alleged misdemeanours, “spent $600,000 on a document management system when they were offered systems from another government department for much less.

“Further, another government department has just spent a quarter of the amount for a system that serves three times the [number of] clients,” he says.

SSC spokesman Owen Gill confirms that there is a $600,000 “document and records management system”, at the SSC. It was supplied by the Inform Group of Wellington last year after a competitive tender, he says, and has just finished its rollout.

He says he discussed the matter of another offer with corporate services director Nigel Wise, who confirms that no department “offered” the SSC its own systems.

“Indeed,” says Gill, “I can't see how a department - which is not an IT vendor – could transfer such a system, which is the subject of proprietary rights, to us. At least not without incurring the wrath of hard-working systems designers and owners who have sought to protect their work.”

Nor had any other department simply recommended that the SSC use the systems they are using, he says.

Brown further alleges that the SSC IT division is overstaffed. “Why do they have six staff in the computer area for 150 employees? This staff to IT ratio is three times higher than current recommended trends.”

Gill replies, again citing Wise, that generally, the biggest share of the cost of such IT systems is in the fixed proportion - "the parts you have to have to make them go. How many people they serve - whether it is 150 or 1250 - is a marginal cost. So, having fewer [user] staff [per IT person] doesn't necessarily make your bill any smaller.”

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