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Wellington hits back at critics over Aussie IT-supplier

By Shannon Williams, Thu 5 Feb 15
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The Wellington City Council received much criticism after its announcement that it had chosen an Australian firm as its preferred supplier to deliver its new IT system.

A heavy critic of the council was Ian Apperley is a series of blogs he posted to his Strathmore Park blog on, asking questions about the decision and the costs involved. 

Today the council has released a statement in response to the criticisms, including answers to the 26 questions concerning the council’s Odyssey project Apperley posed to the Wellington City mayor 19 January 2015 via email. Apperley also reqyest eight items of related information to be released to the public, according to the council’s statement. 

“Some observers may note that the figure of $15.3 million has been quoted in these documents as the estimated cost budgeted for the project. This is different than the approx $10 million cost quoted by the Council last month,” the council says. 

“The $10 million estimate was given in response to claims by Mr Apperley that the project would cost $100 million or more. Our quick response was that the project would cost about one-tenth of Mr Apperley’s estimate. 

“It would have been more accurate (and helpful to those interested in the project) if we had used the figure of $15.3 million. Please be assured that the project cost has not ballooned by approx $5 million in the past couple of weeks – and we apologise for any confusion,” it says.

The council says the proposed net financial return from Odyssey is a saving to the council of $12.2 million over 10 years.

Letter to Ian Apperley:

Dear Mr Apperley Official Information Request Response Thank you for your information request, posted on your Strathmore Park” blog, on, and sent to the Mayor by email on 19 January 2015, in which you ask 26 questions concerning the Councils Odyssey project and request 8 items of related information be released to the public. Your questions, and the Councils response to each are as follows:

1. What is the total expected cost of Project Odyssey with a view to replacing all the 120 IT Systems, over what period, including all costs, and noting items that have not been costed? This project is targeting the replacement of approximately 70 of our current 120+ different systems. The project delivery is expected to complete in an 18-20 month time period, starting from contract signing. The net financial return is a saving of 12.2M over 10 years. This includes a comprehensive set of costs of 15,3M. These include internal IT resource, internal business resource, consultancy, independent advice and review, legal, vendor implementation, vendor first year licensing and support. The gross savings are forecast at 27,5M.

2. What are the 120 systems that are being replaced? The project is targeting the replacement of approximately 70 of our current 120+ different systems. Please see the attached spreadsheet detailing the list of applications, and their uses.

3. Where is the business case that supports that cost? The Business Case as presented to the Odyssey Steering Committee is held within WCC document management.

4. Why is Project Odyssey a pre-requisite to amalgamation as the Deloitte Report states? The Council has not made Odyssey a pre-requisite for amalgamation. This is a question best put directly to the Local Government Commission.

5. Why was the public not engaged to get feedback on their requirements including residents, resident groups, businesses, and the education sector in particular? Extensive requirements gathering from all WCC business units was undertaken. These business units provide the services to those and other groups, and requirements gathered from subject matter experts in those areas reflect the needs of those groupS.

6. Why does the WCC think that there is not a single IT company in Wellington or New Zealand that can complete this work? The Council undertook an open procurement process, and briefings were held with local technology companies detailing the breadth of the Councils requirements. An extensive evaluation of the responses we received was undertaken, following an open RFP that encouraged consortium approaches. No potential vendor was excluded.

7. Why has a monolithic system been chosen as opposed to modern methodologies of multiple suppliers with a strong integrator? This is not a monolithic system, and does not replace all of the applications currently used by the Council. As stated above, the project is targeting approximately 70 of the Councils 120 different systems.

What this project will achieve is to streamline the fragmented, and expensive to maintain, current arrangements.

8. How does this decision support the WCCs drive to invest more in local IT and its High-Tech Capitalinitiatives? The current applications landscape at WCC is a complex picture, built over a long time — resulting in systems that do not integrate as well as is desirable, Contain duplicated data, and are increasingly difficult and costly to maintain. These now present an increased threat to the stability of Councils service offerings. This situation will worsen as time passes, and may reach a point Where business interruption from these systems failures will simply not be sustainable. This will create a significant impact on Councils ability to service its customers needs. Before we reach that point, we must act – and this is a fundamental driver for this project. We are putting in place a modern progressive system, able to provide better reliable functionality in self-service and online services for staff and the public The Odyssey programme supports the use of Wellington based ICT resources. For example, TechnologyOne has its head office in Brisbane, but the Wellington office employs 21 staff. The Odyssey programme office and the WCC ICT function employs Wellington based ICT staff. These staff are heavily involved in the implementation of Odyssey. The Odyssey programme also utilises a Wellington based ICT company to deliver programme IQA services.

9. How does this decision support Smart City initiatives? The implementation of Odyssey will improve the Councils ability to provide online services and self-service abilities for Council staff and the public. For the public it will mean access to council services anytime, anywhere and on any smart device.

10. How will the Mayor and Councillors ensure that this project is 100% successful given they are ultimately responsible for it? This is a big change programme. As with any project of this size, there will be teething issues. With the right people and systems in place, we will work through any issues in an open and transparent process. The CEO, Executive Leadership Team and the Programme Steering Committee are responsible for the successful delivery of the programme.

11. Will any minutes of future governance, and other, future meetings in relation to Project Odyssey be made public Each request for information, including requests for copies of meeting minutes, will be assessed at the time of the request. The Council works within the framework provided by the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act when assessing information requests.

12. How many staff at the WCC are former employees of TechnologyOne, and vice versa” There are 1500+ employees at the Council. A review of all employees to determine who are former TechnologyOne employees has not been carried out. To ascertain how many Council employees have previously worked for TechnologyOne would require substantial research of the Councils Human Resources files, and follow up with each member of Staff. However, I can advise you that in the Councils IT team, which is likely to be of more relevance to you, there is one former employee of TechnologyOne – employed by the Council as the Odyssey Programme Manager. The Council was aware of this previous employment as it was declared up front by the Odyssey Programme Manager. The Council is unaware of any former employees of WCC now working at TechnologyOne.

13. Were any former employees of Technology One involved in the writing of the RFP The Odyssey Programme Manager was involved in the writing of the RFP, though the decisions as to the final makeup of the RFP were made by the Steering Group, not the Odyssey Programme Manager.

14. Were any former employees of Technology One involved in the evaluation of the RFP There were a number of people involved in the evaluation of the RFP. This included the Odyssey Project Steering Group, the Councils Procurement Manager, and the Councils IT senior leadership team. The Odyssey Programme Manager was also involved.

15. Were any former employees of Technology One involved in the process of managing the RFP? The Odyssey Programme manages all activities in the Programme, though as pointed out above the Steering Group make the final decisions.

16. How were conflicts of interest managed and what was the nature of these? Conflict of Interest statements have been signed by all who have direct involvement in the Programme, Potential conflicts of interest have been raised, none of which were significant enough to require formal management.

17. Were the requirements for the RFP changed at any time in the process. Particularly after initial questions from responders and short listing. If they were, how did the new requirements differ from the original requirements? NO.

18. How many other Councils have signed up to the solution? This is an internal Wellington City Council project. The requirements were shared with other Councils in the region before release of RFP. However, we were not asking the other Councils to become involved. We were advising them of the project and what we were doing. Some of these Councils retain a Watching brief on the progress of Odyssey. None of the other Councils have made any financial investment, or any commitment to invest.

19. How many local jobs will this create for Wellington 11 Wellington based employees of TechnologyOne will be involved in the Odyssey project. Local companies and individuals have already been involved in the programme so far, fulfilling various roles, and will continue to do throughout. Although this may not be considered a local job created, but it is local resources engaged.

20. How many jobs will be lost within the IT Department at the WCC as a result of this project? At some time after completion of Odyssey a review of the remaining application landscape – its support requirements and enhancementupgrade pipeline – will determine the extent of any change in size of the Councils IT team.

21. Is it true that there is a split within Council over this project, with wider Council not supporting the decision? There will always be different views in respect of the solutions to problems that arise, and the Odyssey project was not exempt from this. This is a normal state of affairs. There are in the region of 200+ of the Council team directly engaged in the Programme. Staff from different business units, and even teams within units, put forward different thoughts on how the outcomes sought could be achieved, and these were listened to by the Steering Group. The Steering Group, through detailed debate were able to make a unanimous decision on the direction to take.

22. Were the Common Capability services offered by DIA analysed, if not, why not, and if yes, why were they discounted? There is no overlap between the services offered under DIAs Common Capability and the functionality we seek to implement.

23. What roles were represented on the RFP evaluation team? I.e. IT, Finance, Innovation, etc. Business lnformation & Technology; Building Resilience; Customer Services and Parking; Building Compliance & Consents; Business Reporting, Analysis & Performance; City Events; City Housing; City Networks; City Planning & Design; City Planning and Design; Community Networks; Democratic Services; External Relations; Finance; Financial Accounting; Financial Strategy & Planning; Head of Innovation; Health, Safety & Wellness; HR; Organisational Development; Parks, Sport & Recreation; Positively Wellington Venues; Property; Research, Consultation & Planning; Strategic Asset Management Planning; Strategy.

24. What roles are represented on the steering committee for the project? The Odyssey Steering Committee is compromised of the CEO, the ELT (Director, Governance; Director, City Growth & Partnerships; Chief Financial Officer: Director, Strategy & External Relations; Chief Operating Officer; Chief Asset Officer; Director, Human Resources), the manager of WCCs Strategic Asset Planning team, an independent advisor, and a senior member of another Council in the region.

25. What expertise do the RFP evaluation team and steering committee have? The RFP evaluation team have experience of their individual business units, the services offered, and the knowledge of the functionality required. The Steering Group is made up of the WCC executive, an independent advisor with extensive experience in IT and government, and the experience of a senior representative of another Council in the region.

26. How much has the RFP cost to run to this point? External costs to date, including inception, RFl, RFP and evaluation through to December 2014: 1.4m

You also requested that the Council makes the following information public: 1. The Business Case for Project Odyssey Please see the attached Business Case document. Please note that 2 pages have been withheld under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987, sections 2)b)ii) and 2)i) 2. The gift register for the IT Department at the WCC. Please see the attached pages from the Councils gift register, for the IT team, dating from September 2013 to December 2014 (the period in which the Odyssey programme has been active. Some personal information has been withheld from the gift register under LGOlMA, section 2)a), to protect personal information that identifies individuals where comments on the gift register were in relation to personal matters. 3. Without naming companies or individuals, release the data on why responders were NOT successful. The Council is still within the procurement process. This part of your request is refused under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987, sections 2)b)ii) and 2)i). 4. The scoring documents including how responses were weighted. Note: Not the scoring itself of individual responses. The Council is still within the procurement process. This part of your request is refused under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987, sections 2)b)ii) and 2)i) . Without disclosing company or individual information, information related to any conflicts of interest and how they were managed. The Council has answered this question under q16 of the previous list, advising how it has handled declarations of Conflict of interest. 6. Correspondence and meeting minutes between the WCC and the GWRC in relation to Project Odyssey. Please find attached a PowerPoint briefing, presented to GWRC before the release Of the RFP. 7. Correspondence and meeting minutes that mention Amalgamation. The Council holds no correspondence, or meeting minutes, concerning project Odyssey, mentioning amalgamation. . The RFP proper and all related materials that were released to the market. Please see the attached documents concerning the RFP. Information has been withheld from the Business Case provided, and the Council has refused to provide information requested in parts 3of the list of information you requested the Council make public. This has been done under the following sections of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 (LGOIMA): Section 2)b)ii)to protect information where the making available of the information would be likely unreasonably to prejudice the commercial position of the person who supplied or who is the subject of the information. Section 2)i) — to enable the Council to carry on, without prejudice or disadvantage, negotiations (including commercial and industrial negotiations). If you disagree with the decisions to withhold information, you can apply in writing to the Ombudsman to have the decision investigated and reviewed under section 27 (3) of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987.

Please contact me if you have any questions. Issues Resolution Office Wellington City Council

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