Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Someone has to be accountable for this

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  • David Hood,

    I see (via Slashdot) there have be arrests in the New York CityTime system. Projected cost $68 million, final cost $740 million. The project manager has been charged with taking $5 million in kickbacks and giving $450 million in 'work' to the company that provided the kickbacks. Back in December consultants were charge with stealing $80 million.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to David Hood,

    If that's anything to go by, then the Super Auckland IT issue deserves the attention of the Auditor-General.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5428 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    RB,
    care to expand on this?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Reeves,

    Relax! There's no corruption in New Zealand!---remember year after year, regularly as clockwork, all those reports saying this?

    Or is it just that we don't (or won't, or can't) look as deeply as other countries?

    Near Donny Park, Hamilton… • Since Apr 2007 • 94 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Steve Reeves,

    Or is it just that we don't (or won't, or can't) look as deeply as other countries?

    I think it's because our kind of corruption is different. There's no need for overt crookedness when the game has a stacked deck built in. In NZ, it's considered outrageous if you put a bottle of wine on your government credit card, but it's par for the course to just hand ownership of whole industries to powerful interests with bugger all public consultation. To fuck up how much something is going to cost, when that cost is in the hundreds of millions, just doesn't exercise people here. We don't call it corruption because we find simple incompetence so much easier to believe and, for some reason, to accept.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10646 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Corruption in New Zealand is about connections and influence and mutual doing of favours in apparently licit ways. Those reports accurately note that we don't go in for bribes or kickbacks. But there are other means.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Roger Lacey, in reply to BenWilson,

    It's human nature to understand things that we can relate to such as a bottle of wine or a set of golf clubs but when a millions of dollars are talked about we glaze over with incomprehension.
    If you explain to someone that if they sat down and wrote out a cheque for a thousand dollars every minute non-stop for 17 hours, that would add up to around a million dollars then the enormity of the sum starts to sink in.
    But of course we're not talking of just one million dollars here,

    Whatakataka Bay Surf Club… • Since Apr 2008 • 148 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Roger Lacey,

    If you explain to someone that if they sat down and wrote out a cheque for a thousand dollars every minute non-stop for 17 hours, that would add up to around a million dollars then the enormity of the sum starts to sink in.

    Or. If they raise the minimum wage to $15 then it would only take you 35 years to earn 1 million bucks and that is before tax.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to 3410,

    RB,
    care to expand on this?

    To do with the comments I removed on Saturday. They were getting someone into serious trouble.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22763 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    I guessed that. Does that mean you can say any more?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to 3410,

    I guessed that. Does that mean you can say any more?

    It seems prudent to be discreet about it for now.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22763 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Steve Reeves,

    There’s no corruption in New Zealand!

    No no, it's depression that there's none of in New Zealand.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to nzlemming,

    we can all stay perfectly calm, in either case

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19697 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Sacha,

    dead calm?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4452 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    not even a ripple.

    you think these suit-wearing theives will let some upstart bloggers threaten their $300 million fleecing operation? who needs corporate auditors when you've got these fine, upstanding mega-scammers?

    all completely in order, nothing to see here.
    move along, no (De)loit(t)ering, please.

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 645 posts Report Reply

  • Cassandra, in reply to BenWilson,

    Precisely. Seemed an apt username.

    Since May 2011 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Cassandra,

    See, now you're just troying with us.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • John Holley, in reply to Steve Reeves,

    I personally saw no evidence of any corruption – and I would have jumped up and down if I did. Self-interest is not corruption.

    Commercial organisations will normally try to “up-sell” their products/services etc. That is why it is important, with RFPs in local/central govt, that you have clear and transparent governance. (Jump in here Mark Harris!) The ATA was able to drive decisions through under a cloud of secrecy with no one, apart from the ratepayers of Auckland financially, being accountable for those decisions.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 142 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to John Holley,

    Perhaps not personal corruption, John, but it seems to me there is a distinct corruption of process.

    Also, if any contractor on the ATA side was operating with self-interest, that is^H^H would be corruption of their duty to act as agents of the Crown while in the employ of the Crown. (And local government is part of the Crown, in case anybody wants to go down that “no exit” road)

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to John Holley,

    The ATA was able to drive decisions through under a cloud of secrecy with no one, apart from the ratepayers of Auckland financially, being accountable for those decisions.

    And this is firmer ground. It's an awful failure for which, as I suggested in the headline, someone must be held accountable.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22763 posts Report Reply

  • John Holley, in reply to nzlemming,

    I didn't see those working for the ARA operating with self-interest.

    I did see consultants engaged by the ATA checking on the work of other consultants engaged by the ATA. I could only shake my head when I attended meetings with two sets of consultants. I would shake my head more when I realised how little most of them knew about local government.

    Prompted me to buy from Amazon The Management Myth: Why the Experts Keep Getting it Wrong by Matthew Stewart. Read it an you will understand!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 142 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to John Holley,

    how little most of them knew about local government

    matching the Minister perfectly..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19697 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to John Holley,

    Jump in here Mark Harris!

    You know me too well, sir! :-)

    There are many levels of corruption, especially in the procurement process. When Transparency International say NZ has one of the least corrupt governments in the world, they're mostly talking about personal corruption e.g taking bribes, nepotism in employment, special favours for the "in group" etc.

    We may still suffer from the corruption of rust, where people do nothing rather than do something wrong, and there's a fair amount of allowance given to certain public figures (mainly sports persons and celebrities) when petty acts of a semi-criminal or actual criminal nature is involved (e.g. speeding, fighting in public).

    Imagine a police constable in a small rural town where a former All Black gets pissed one Friday night and trashes part of the pub. Technically, it's a breach of the peace but unless the publican decides to make a fuss, the copper is likely to bundle the AB into the panda and take him home. Said AB will be shamefaced the next day, when he goes to collect his car and he and the publican will come to an arrangement for compensation. Is the police officer corrupt for not enforcing the law? Most of us would say no, he's using his discretion but the problem with discretion is there's a big grey area where people assume they're allowed to make decisions about things that they're not.

    Procurement is one of those areas. There's a big difference between what is acceptable in the private sector - flying prospective clients around the world to view 'reference sites', for example, or seats to the RWC in a corporate box - and in the public sector, where any 'gifts' over a particular amount have to be declared and might have to be refused depending on circumstances. I recall one RFP where a telco bidding for the contract sent Xmas boxes including salmon, champagne and other edibles to several of the members of the judging panel, who were most put out when I went around collecting the boxes to send straight back.

    MED have guidelines for central government agencies and the Auditor General has Good Practice Guidelines for both central and local agencies, mainly around procurement and managing conflicts of interest. The problem, since 1987 and the State Sector restructures, is the outsourcing of services and the revolving door for consultants brought in to fill knowledge/skill gaps. The outsourcers and the consultants don't read the guidelines, don't have the culture and are given far too much management control of many of the processes. To be fair, most individual contractors I worked with were honest and keen to do the right thing, but every so often you hit one that makes you go "wha?". In my opinion, most IT procurement projects suffer from precisely this problem - too much leeway given to the contractors plus a lack of "public sector culture" in the decision making. (I could, like others, name some names, but I like my house even if Steven Joyce wants to build a fucking expressway over the back fence).

    As John notes, clear and transparent governance is vital for fair and effective procurement, and government in general. As others have noted, "clear" and "transparent" don't appear to be words in current usage at the ATA (or NZTA for that matter...sassinfrassinrassun...)

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to John Holley,

    Prompted me to buy from Amazon The Management Myth: Why the Experts Keep Getting it Wrong by Matthew Stewart. Read it an you will understand

    Yup, I've read a couple of the chapters he published. So much bullshit in the name of "science"!!

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    Jeepers, I just caught up with Cassandra's first post. Word! That is all.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

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