A planned early retirement for Immigration NZ's visa processing software has shone a light on a low-profile, Microsoft-led replacement project dubbed Adept.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), Immigration NZ's parent agency, has also now disclosed details of both the project budget and the partners helping Microsoft deliver it.
As reported earlier this month, Immigration NZ's parent agency, MBIE, had to suck up a $22 million depreciation expense from shortening the life of its existing immigration global management system (IGMS), now known as Immigration Online.
This is now being replaced by the "advanced digital employer-led processing and targeting" (Adept) visa processing systems, initiated to help simplify immigration processes for employers and immigrants.
Overall, the rebuild is expected to cost a total of $62.4 million in both operational and capital spending, MBIE's general manager, enablement, Stephen Dunstan, told Reseller News last week.
DXC, Argonaut, Theta and Datacom have all contributed to the overall solution as the enhancements to Immigration Online continue to integrate into the organisation's current infrastructure, Dunstan said.
"The technology being used is Microsoft Dynamics (D365) which was selected after a public tendering process," he said. "The system will be cloud based and will use the Microsoft Azure cloud system."
The replacement project is in two parts funded by two separate Budget authorities: The automated decision assist (ADA) project, and the employer direct project (EDP).
The ADA project will introduce a new visa processing technology platform that will allow for more timely and efficient processing and enable the automation of some administrative visa processing tasks, Dunstan said.
The EDP project, meanwhile, is implementing the Cabinet-directed accredited employer work visa (AEWV) policy reforms, delivering employer accreditation and job-check portals, and the new accredited employer work visa.
On 12 December 2019, Cabinet agreed to capital expenditure funding of $29.2 million and operational expenditure funding of $14.2 million for the EDP project. Then, on 2 July 2020, Cabinet agreed in principle that MBIE would commit capital expenditure funding of $16.8 million and operational expenditure funding of $2.2 million for the ADA project.
"The project budget includes both internal and external resources, vendor deliverables and the ongoing support and maintenance of the solution," Dunstan said.
The Adept programme started in July 2020 and was currently expected to finish in mid-2022.
"Timeframes for closure of both projects are being reviewed following the impact of Covid-19 and other Immigration NZ priorities," Dunstan said.
The previous IGMS project kicked off in 2011 after a proposed investment of $75 million was green-lighted by then immigration minister Jonathan Coleman to replace 15 year old software. In the end, the so-called Vision 2015 package cost $119.3 million.
By the time of its conclusion six months late in June 2016, Immigration New Zealand had delivered all capabilities outlined in the IGMS and Vision 2015 business cases except one, a 2017 report from the Auditor-General said. The core visa processing system was not fully replaced as planned because Immigration NZ decided to keep and maintain parts of it "for the foreseeable future".
The project was also roiled by disagreements about the scope of the project between Immigration NZ and system provider Datacom.
Commercial negotiations with Microsoft to support the new implementation were completed and a contract executed on 7 September, 2020. The first stage of the roll out was scheduled for August this year.