INCIS debacle forces Wanganui system patch-up

A patch-up job is on the cards for the Wanganui computer system following in the wake of the INCIS project cessation. The State Services Commission is in talks with EDS about an extension of the computer's life to serve the needs of all the Justice agencies.

A patch-up job is on the cards for the Wanganui computer system following in the wake of the INCIS project cessation.

The State Services Commission is in talks with EDS about the possible need to prolong the life of the Wanganui computer to serve the needs of all the Justice agencies.

This follows the INCIS (integrated national crime information system) cessation.

Deputy commissioner Ross Tanner says there are implications for all departments —- Justice, Courts and Corrections — in the sense that all were to move off Wanganui by the middle of next year. “Clearly, if INCIS is not completed to its full extent, then Wanganui may have to be kept going longer,” he says.

Phase two of INCIS would have enabled conversion of the data held on the Wanganui system.

“We’re working through the implications and are scoping out the issues for what’s going on in the justice sector,” Tanner says.

“However, any project is very much dependent on Treasury discussions with IBM.”

SSC recently hired Tony Hood as a consultant to work through the issues and is formulating terms of references and putting together a project team.

Just eight days after IBM formally withdrew from the troubled Police INCIS project, the government announced it was taking legal action, claiming unspecified damages. The government will also seek a High Court ruling that it has acted legally in cancelling the contract with IBM.

Finance Minister Sir William Birch says IBM unconditionally guaranteed the performance of all terms and conditions that its New Zealand subsidiary was obliged to perform under the original agreement, including provision of the first stage of the three-stage project by November 30, 1998. Police didn’t accept stage one of the delayed project till May 19 this year.

INCIS was at that stage running $30 million over its original $98 million budget.

When announcing its withdrawal from the project, IBM said Police had demanded many changes to the specifications. It says it has met its contractual obligations.

The government statement of claim will ask the High Court to determine what damages are due to the government and to award damages accordingly.

It’s unusual for IBM to wind up in court, the company preferring to settle differences. Probably the last time it was involved in legal action in New Zealand was in 1989 when it took action against a company over allegations the company used cloned PC bios’s against copyright. IBM won the case.

IBM won’t comment on daily newspaper reports that it is considering acting on legal advice to counter-sue Police.

Department of Courts general manager special jurisdictions John Grant says it is purely coincidental that Courts has cancelled the Inslaw part of its $31 million systems redevelopment at the same time as Incis, though any court systems will have to interface to Police systems.

Inslaw is a Washington-based company whose software was being used to automate case management through the courts and for collection of fines. The department had spent $2.4 million developing the platform.

Courts entered into the contract last October. But Grant says after the business rules for Courts were worked through, the fixed price of the contract would have been substantially greater than the estimated price. Courts exercised a withdrawal option in the contract.

“We now have to talk to Treasury and State Services Commission officials,” he says. “One option is to check the market again for suitable systems. The other is to custom build.”

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