INDEPENDENT NEWS

INCIS Was Always Going To Fail - Prebble

Published: Tue 10 Aug 1999 01:54 PM
IBM's decision to pull the plug on the INCIS computer project is the right decision, says ACT Leader Richard Prebble. "It's a decision that National Ministers should have taken years ago.
"The INCIS project was always going to fail because the project is far too complex to work. National Ministers have had overwhelming evidence that the project won't work but unlike IBM, have been unwilling to face up to the fact that they've made a mistake. Having spent $132 million they'd rather go on spending than admit their mistake.
'These comments are easy for an MP to make, but I can back them up. When I was Police Minister in 1990, the police brought me the INCIS project and I turned them down, saying the project would fail, and accurately predicting what has now happened.
"It had all the signs of a runaway government contract. The police administrators claimed it would be 'leading edge' and would give our police the worlds best computer system. They also made the incredible claim that no existing programme could meet their needs.
"I pointed out that there are over 500 police forces in the western world bigger than our police force; it was not credible to suggest there was not an existing programme available; and it was ridiculous to suggest the New Zealand taxpayer should fund a programme to give us a 'leading edge'.
"Ministers should have the courage to stop a project once they realise it won't work. When I was Postmaster General I cancelled a $53 million programme the Post Office had developed because it had completely failed to work after 6 years (the programme was Swedish and after spending $50 million the programmer still couldn't get it to speak English). The officials were prepared to go on spending money for ever, with no guarantee it would ever work. I personally signed the instructions to cancel.
"That's what National Ministers should do. Leadership is about making tough decisions.
"While the police administration must take most of the blame, this is such a massive failure there is plenty to share around.
"IBM put forward a project which couldn't possibly deliver what their salesman claimed, and I believe the Crown has a good case to recover some of the cost.
"However Ministers are also to blame - successive Ministers of Police authorised this project which from day one was never going to work.
'Treasury are also to blame because they never thought the project would work but okayed it on the basis that it would be funded out of the existing police budget at the expense of police on the beat.
"And the Treasury Ministers -Winston Peters and Sir William Birch - should have known the electorate wouldn't stand for it.
"INCIS is a symbol of a lack of leadership in government and a lack of accountability for taxpayers' money" Mr Prebble said.
ENDS

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