The National Library has until the end of June to report back to ministers on its future information technology plans in the wake of the failed national document and information service (NDIS) project.
Future spending will have to be funded by the library’s annual budget, says a spokesperson for Wyatt Creech, the minister responsible for the library.
Last week Creech released a press statement following an inquiry into the NDIS project and its projected budget blow-out.
“The library has taken stock of where its future lies following the decision of the joint-venture partners to terminate the NDIS contract. The lessons learned from the NDIS project have enabled the library to re-examine its core purpose and to work to develop an alternative information technology strategy.
“A key lesson learned is that the library is in the business of providing information rather than in the business of developing technology.”
He says the government has clarified what it expects from the National Library.
“The specific business of the National Library will be to collect and preserve New Zealand’s documentary heritage, and to help libraries make the most of their contribution to New Zealand’s social, educational and economic development.
Though the library won’t know how much it has to spend till the Treasurer tables the Budget, Computerworld understands it is already in discussion with several vendors.
Acting National Librarian Darryn Jenkins says negotiations are continuing with the National Library of Australia and the prime vendor involved in NDIS, CSC, to terminate the project, for which the original New Zealand component of the capital budget was $6.9 million.
He confirms that had blown out to around $8.5 million at the time the project was halted and that to continue with NDIS “wouldn’t have cost less than a further $10 million”.
Jenkins says the library’s year 2000 compliance issues will also be dealt with within the existing budget.
“The core bibliographic record upgrade will be done under this. There are some smaller projects too, but these are relatively straightforward.”
State Services Minister Jenny Shipley and Information Technology Minister Maurice Williamsom, meanwhile, say in a press release that IT is the second most expensive resource in government departments after staff. The statement is indicative, based on the State Services Commission understanding from departments of their spending.
Just two weeks ago Williamson told Computerworld the government didn’t know how much it was spending on IT.
Along with asking all departments and ministries to report on what they are doing to prepare their computer systems for the year 2000, the State Services Commission is leading an inter-departmental group to address the issues of doing a stocktake of all IT projects and developing a system for monitoring projects.
The information technology policy unit of the Ministry of Commerce has begun to scrutinise all proposed IT projects costing more than $1 million.