Jim posted the incredible story of the New Zealand Immigration Service (NZIS) proposing a $117 million upgrade of IT infrastructure, a sum that equates, from Jim’s reckoning, to $234k per NZIS process worker.

It’s a sorry tale and one that, as Jim points out, smacks of desperation, silo building and vested interests. Given the somewhat depressing post I thought I’d revisit a success story for Government 2.0.

I’ve long been a fan of New Zealand’s Ministry of Economic Development – long before co-founding a community site for New Zealand small businesses, I was involved (and continue to be so) with economic development and advisory work for SMEs as well as running my own small businesses – in my dealings with the various branches of the Ministry of Economic Development (MED), I found them to be effective and efficient. This impression was strengthened with their wholesale adoption of modern communication channels in order to engage with their “clients”. it doesn’t matter which channel you look at – if their constituents embrace it, it’s a sure bet that the various MED departments will soon be there.

Recently I met with another Government department that I’ll leave anonymous. They’re also striving to engage with their constituents. The people I talked to were invariably passionate advocates for the enabling force that engaging with their client base can be – unfortunately their department has some silos within it, people who for whatever reason attempt to block the sort of initiatives their colleagues over at the MED embrace. The result? Frustrated staff, programmes that lack the reach they could otherwise attain and, most importantly for those who evangelise the democratizing power of Government 2.0, inefficiencies that affect the very SMEs these departments are set up to help.

So circling back to the genesis of this post – the NZIS plan for IT upgrading, I’m sure there’s some people within the service who have been flying the flag for quick and relatively economic solutions to the inefficiencies apparent in the system – and you can bet they’re blocked at every turn by anti-progressive and institutionalised individuals who can’t see past the status quo.


Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

  • Hey Ben

    I’ve worked in a number of govt departments, and dealt with them on a business level as well. The real problem is their motivations and business relationships are all wrong. There is ‘risk’ involved in doing something different, and most government departments seem to be so risk adverse as to be almost unable to even consider something new. There are great people in those IT departments, but until the risk adverse culture begins to change, and the understanding that ‘the same thing we’ve always done’ is much riskier than ‘a small innovation’ permeates the culture, we’re stuck with $117million projects. Status quo all around. Very frustrating for any of the small, agile IT vendors who are perfectly capable of dealing with government projects. Its back to the IT service monoliths to soak up our cash and fire it overseas.

  • The real tragedy is that if they go ahead with this project, the $117M will almost certainly not be spent with a NZ founded company that can then (under recent legislation) retain and resell the IP. Imagine how many new technology businesses could be launched with this.

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