A review of the troubled $90 million National Oracle Solution project has itself come under attack in Parliament with shadow assistant minister for health Dr Shane Reti questioning the independence of reviewer Deloitte.
In Parliamentary question time last week, Reti questioned the appointment of Deloitte because the company's ICT services subsidiary Asparona had worked on the project.
"Have Deloitte or Deloitte-related entities directly or indirectly received any funding for the Oracle programme across the life of the programme?", Reti asked Health Minister Dr David Clark.
"I have been assured that no individual who had anything to do with Asparona's involvement in the National Oracle Solution project has any involvement in the Deloitte review," Clark answered. "The member needs to take a deep breath."
When asked by the Speaker to respond fully, Clark confirmed payments had been received by Deloitte/Asparona for work on the project but "the conflicts were declared before the review was commenced".
The project was launched over six years ago under the previous government and further funding depends in part on the outcome of the review.
As reported by Reseller News, the Ministry of Health was leading the "independent review" to inform the Cabinet funding decision.
Asked if the Prime Minister was updated on the appointment of Deloitte as the independent reviewer, Clark responded "I did not appoint Deloitte as the independent reviewer."
Reti persisted: "If it turns out that Deloitte does have a conflict of interest reviewing the Oracle programme, will the Minister submit all independent reviews he has initiated to the Office of the Auditor-General for conflict of interest scrutiny?"
Clark responded: "The conflicts of interest, perceived or actual, were declared before the review was commenced."
In a release, Reti said the "supposed independent review" was, in fact, being carried out by the "owner of the company that installed it in the first place".
“Health Minister David Clark describes the programme as having ‘challenges’ and needing an independent review but has then overseen the appointment of Deloitte to carry that out,” Reti said.
“However, Deloitte owns the IT company, Asparona, which helped implement the project, meaning it potentially bears some of the responsibility for the issues we are seeing today. I don’t think it takes a genius to see a clear conflict of interest here.
“This is at best a lack of oversight that shows that Dr Clark has no idea what is going on and at worst an attempt to avoid real scrutiny of a $90 million-plus project which has real promise but has gone off the rails."
The project is funded by DHBs to provide a replacement for ageing finance and supply chain systems. According to Reti, if implemented correctly it would allow the sector to significantly reduce non-labour costs, and invest more in patient care.
“The Minister needs to sort this quickly by appointing an independent body to review the National Oracle Solution project," Reti added. "He also needs to urgently explain how this contract came to be awarded and seek an assurance from his ministry that its processes for awarding contracts are robust because this just doesn't pass the sniff test."