Rumours of high spending before axe fell at ACC

Rumours about the impending sacking of Accident Compensation Corporation chief executive Gavin Robins were around the computer industry a full two weeks before his abrupt departure. There's been speculation in the daily media that Robin's departure is related to huge budget blowouts on computer spending.

Rumours about the impending sacking of Accident Compensation Corporation chief executive Gavin Robins were around the computer industry a full two weeks before his abrupt departure.

“There’s a feeling ACC is out of control and Robins might feel the lash for that,” one source told Computerworld. “It’s heavy political shit.”

Political indeed is the ACC, with its minister, Jenny Shipley, clearly using it as one platform to back a likely leadership challenge for the National Party. One of the options she has proposed is a stand-down of four weeks for those with minor injuries.

It’s a nice fit with what is said to be one of the major problems for case officers at ACC, that it takes a month from the time a claim is lodged for them to get the necessary information from the system to take the case forward.

That’s one of several written questions Computerworld posed to ACC early last week, but at press time there had been no response.

There’s been speculation in the daily media that Robin’s departure is related to huge budget blowouts on computer spending. Shipley says the auditor general will decide whether police or the Serious Fraud Office should investigate “irregularities”, some of which involve Robins

She says irregularities, which she would not specify, had been uncovered by an audit commissioned by the ACC board.

Robins had been dismissed on performance grounds, though other issues had now been raised that were serious enough to warrant further investigations.

Last year an ACC board meeting approved a dramatically different shape to the ACCtion project, which had its budget slashed and payment spread over a longer time frame.

Business re-engineering consultant KPMG went from having around 30 people working on the project to just one.

Unisys, which won the enabling technology business, had its contractor numbers cut back.

Unisys won the bid late in 1995 but contract negotiations didn’t begin till January 1996. “We’re slowing down the contract negotiations till we know what we’re doing,” ACC IT manager Henry Carr said at the time of the revamp.

The hardware and software components of the project were originally expected to be worth around $15 million. Sources suggested then that the overall cost of the redesign could be as much as $40 million when consulting fees and provision for layoff of staff were taken into account.

The ACCtion project was established to design and implement a business process, supporting organisation and culture, and enabling technology systems to meet those aims. There were four components: business process re-engineering; enabling technology - including a transition strategy for legacy systems; change management; and business realisation, which included cost-benefit analysis and measurement.

“We’ve been more successful on the enabling technology than we have with some of the business processes,” Carr said earlier this year.

“We’re looking at bringing change management back into the business and the ownership of the design.

“I want to feel we’ve got stronger control. It’s a recognition that ACC need to make the decisions, not an external consultant.”

Carr wouldn’t comment on market rumours that $4 million had been spent on consultancy with little apparent benefit.

Much of the planned business re-engineering seems to have been subsequently dropped and the emphasis put on automation, under a Unisys project known as Pathways.

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