IRD struggles with ambitious outsourcing plans

Inland Revenue is undergoing a major outsourcing programme, estimated by industry sources to be worth tens of millions of dollars, amidst allegations that the process has become confused. The department refuses to comment on the cost of IT projects on the grounds of commercial sensitivity, despite having no obvious competition. So many projects are being outsourced at the moment that tenders put out as far back as a year ago still haven't been shortlisted.

Inland Revenue is undergoing a major outsourcing programme, estimated by industry sources to be worth tens of millions of dollars, amidst allegations that the process has become confused.

The department refuses to comment on the cost of IT projects on the grounds of commercial sensitivity, despite having no obvious competition.

So many projects are being outsourced at the moment that tenders put out as far back as a year ago still haven’t been shortlisted.

Further problems are arising due to the lack of documentation. The department has denied suggestions that its existing IT systems aren’t fully documented.

The business functions being outsourced are:

• Package customisation

• Development and support of non-core systems written for IRD (excluding its core system FIRST)

• Continued outsourcing of Unisys and IBM mainframe services

• Helpdesk operations

• Workstation management

Work on these projects is now at the RFP stage.

Wang and Unisys are considered to be the main contenders for the majority of the tenders. The IRD says an announcement will be made within the next week.

Also being contested is the networking tender, which is apparently down to two partnerships on the short list, either Clear and Digital or Telecom and Anite. Confirmation is expected to be announced within the next month.

The department is already in the process of upgrading its office automation environment, and is deploying Novell Groupwise to 900 PC users in the national office. This stage of the deployment will be completed by the end of September .

The next stage will involve the application being installed for 350 field office users. The budget for this aspect of the project is said to be between $4 - 6 million.

There is a political dimension to the overall upgrade process. The IRD has been deeply involved in discussion with the Public Services Association because a number of jobs will inevitably be lost under automation.

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