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MSD voted $137M to "stabilise" computer systems

Ministry was due to complete a $112 million simplification project at the end of 2017
MSD received funding to manage the risk of critical systems failure in the 2019 Budget.

MSD received funding to manage the risk of critical systems failure in the 2019 Budget.

The Ministry of Social Development received a total of $137 million in yesterday's Budget to stabilise its ICT systems.

The money, including $74 million in operating funding and $63 million of capital, was voted to reducing the risk in critical systems and to support the implemention of legislative change.

"This initiative aims to maintain the Ministry of Social Development’s provision of services to over one million New Zealanders and make $24 billion in payments annually, by stabilising the computer systems at highest risk of serious failure," the Budget document explained.

Stephen Crombie, MSD's deputy chief executive corporate solutions, said the ministry had an on-going program of maintaining and then replacing hardware and software.

"Our current systems are stable and working well," he said. "The money we received in the Budget will be spent on a planned improvements to proactively upgrade key systems in a timely manner. 

"As part of our longer term planning we are considering how we transition from our older systems such as Swifft but this is not part of our Budget 2019 funding."

Last year, while explaining plans to buy new financial management systems, ministry CFO Bruce Simpson also dropped a hint that MSD might look to replace its core legacy Swifft software.

CIO David Habershon also told CIO Magazine last year the ministry was also working on a simplification and transformation program.

A ministry report showed that the simplification program had a budget of $112 million and was due to be completed in December 2017.

The program, which had completed around 20 projects, aimed to develop easy-to-use, more transparent processes and better access to digital self-service channels, Habershon said.

In a briefing to its incoming minister in late 2017, MSD included a note on the need to remediate critical system risks.

"The 'improve resilience of critical systems' initiative seeks to improve the resilience of the ministry’s critical systems so in the event of a major outage at its primary datacentre, the ministry could continue to deliver welfare services across New Zealand supported by IT systems," the note said.

"The purpose of the 'availability of digital channels' initiative is to increase the percentage of time the ministry’s digital channels are available to its clients.

"We would like to discuss with you progressing the drawdown of the remaining contingency funding which will enable the ministry to complete the availability component of the project in a timely manner."