Aardvark Daily aardvark (ard'-vark) a controversial animal with a long probing nose used for sniffing out the facts and stimulating thought and discussion.

NZ's leading source of Net-Industry news and commentary since 1995
Australasia's "New Economy" News And Commentary Site
Today's Headlines | Contact | New Sites | Press Bin | Job Centre | News Search
e-Government -- Can We Trust Our Politicians? 21 August 2000 Edition
Previous Edition

It's the buzz-word of the year 2000 -- "e-Government" - and our own politicians are as keen as anyone to show how smart they are by dropping it into polite conversation with only the slightest provocation.

Nobody can doubt the obvious benefits that will come from providing the public with a more efficient interface with the various mechanisms of government and the services it provides -- but at what cost?

I'm not talking about issues such as privacy -- I'm talking about dollars and cents.

Governments around the world have shown themselves to be incredibly incompetent in spending taxpayers money on hi-tech computer systems -- and ours would appear to be amongst the most adept at squandering the public purse on e-follies.

Does anyone remember INCIS? Just one example of how huge amounts of money can be wasted by bureaucrats with their fingers in the bottomless pit that is the taxpayer's wallet.

And today we see in a story published on Stuff (linked in the headlines section below) that the IRD's ill-implemented attempt to move part of its operation online cost each and every taxpayer nearly a dollar -- for a total of $2.5 million just to buy the digital certificates and supporting hardware involved. And who was the idiot who chose technology which forced the use of the Microsoft's Windows platform -- effectively levying an extra cost on all the very happy Apple and Unix users who had to plonk out money for a WinTel system just to file their returns? This is what I mean by having no regard for the public purse.

I wonder whether these career bureaucrats would have spent public funds so readily on such badly analysed, designed and implemented schemes if, like so many entrepreneurial startups and small businesses, it was money secured against their own houses and future?

Readers Say
Thanks for your article on e-government - John

Have Your Say
Of course I'm the first to acknowledge that designing and implementing sophisticated IT systems is a minefield that even seemingly accomplished experts often have trouble negotiating without picking up the odd piece of shrapnel in the buttocks (just look at the new Domainz Registry project for an example) -- but when you're dealing with the public purse there should be an even higher duty of care involved.

What I'd like to know from Government is -- who do they have onboard with a proven track-record in the conception, design, implementation and operation of sophisticated online systems?

It worries me that, for whatever reason, we could end up with yet another major fiasco, at the taxpayer's expense, if the e-Government team is headed and driven by academics and "experts" who maybe haven't actually been there, done that, and certainly don't have the tee-shirt. If there's one thing that the proliferation of "Internet experts" has shown it's that just about anyone can sound like an expert if they spout enough verbiage -- but only a very few actually have any kind of track-record in implementing large-scale, sound, reliable, effective, cost-effective solutions.

Having corresponded with a few individuals involved in online systems within the Government's many departments I can say that there are obviously some very bright people working in there -- but even their best efforts can be totally screwed when you bring in management that can't even spell "Net."

I'm not about to pre-judge the latest e-Government initiatives -- but I'd certainly like some reassurance that it's not going to become another INCIS or Ir-File.

Certainly the appointment of Brendan Boyle to head up this initiative would seem to be a good step in the right direction if reports of his successes elsewhere are to be believed. What do you think?

Time To Lighten Up?
Well it seems that light relief is popular. Thanks to all those who emailed me to say that they'd love the "Time to Lighten Up" section made into a regular segment. I'll try to include it every Friday -- so if you have some worthy sites to suggest, fire them off and I'll take a look.

Heads-Up
There's a wealth of good hi-tech ideas in this country and a number of them are being turned into excellent products or services. Unfortunately for the country, they are often snapped up by savvy overseas companies just as they start to show a profit. How good is that for NZ's economy?

Well, I have it on good authority that yet another of NZ's rising stars in the new economy may well be about to become a foreign entity. Bye-by jobs for Kiwis, bye-bye overseas earnings, wake up government!

Details will follow soon I hope.

As always, your feedback is welcomed.

Latest
Security Alerts
Input Validation Problem In rpc.statd (CERT)

Experts corroborate Windows, IE security hole (CNet)

'IE Script"/Access/OBJECT Tag Vulnerability

Netscape Allows Java Applets to Read Protected Resources

Latest
Virus Alerts
New strain of "Love" virus steals passwords (CNet)

ILOVEYOU Virus Rides Again - As A Resume  (NewsBytes)

Bookmark This Page Now!

Sites In Trouble
Streamline.com
CarOrder.com
Living.com
Kozmo.com
Value America

 

MORE NEWS
NZL Sites
IDG.Net.nz
NZ Netguide
NZ Herald Tech
PC World NZ
Scoop

AUS Sites
Fairfax IT
Australian IT
AFR Tech
AUS Netguide
NineMSN Tech
APC Magazine
Corporate IT

USA Sites
Wired.com
CNet
CNNfn Tech
TechWeb
Yahoo Tech
ZDNet Tech
USA Today Tech
7am.com SciTech

UK Sites
The Register
BBC SciTech

 

The Day's Top News
4 = open in new window
New Zealand

4  Epicor may choose NZ as site for R&D centre
American e-business software-maker Epicor is considering New Zealand for a research and development centre....
Stuff

4  $2.5m spent on Inland Revenue's digital certificates
Inland Revenue's short-lived experiment with digital certificates cost the taxpayer$2.5 million...
Stuff

4  Wood: Telecom trying to "toast" indie ISPs
Ihug will follow Xtra to a $24.95 monthly flat rate - but not until November, when the Southern Cross Cable comes online...
IDG NZ

Other

4  Live at the Linux love fest
Despite diminished Wall Street enthusiasm, start-ups and established companies fought for the spotlight in San Jose, Calif., as the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo triggered a cascade of announcements and demonstrations of Linux technology...
CNet

4  Napster to file legal brief
One day after Hollywood scored a big win in a legal battle involving video piracy on the Web, the target of another landmark battle with the entertainment industry, Napster Inc., went back to court...
CNNfn

4  Web spending edges up
Online spending increased by less than 1 percent in July to $4.03 billion from $4.01 billion in June, according to a study released Friday by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Forrester Research Inc...
CNNfn

4  Encryption Gets Really Small
Scientists at the University of Geneva are collaborating with the Swiss Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications on an experiment that uses quantum computers to run an unbreakable encryption algorithm...
TechWeb

4  Streamline.com Seeks Cash to Avoid Closing
Online order and delivery service Streamline.com Inc. , seeking to avoid being the next victim of the dot-com shakeout, said it needs new funding to avoid closing its virtual doors...
Yahoo

Australia

4  Fears over the security of patients' records
Health professionals have expressed their unease over privacy issues in handling patients' electronic records, with the Government still to enact protective legislation...
AFR

4  US moves in on Aussie Net music scene
Amplified wants to sell wholesale music downloads to local Web retailers...
NewsWire

4  Telstra patents spam detector
The telco has created a system that ranks email messages to detect unwanted advertising...
NewsWire

4  Telstra sets a tender trap
TELSTRA could withdraw from remote areas and sell off or shut down its infrastructure if it does not win a contract to provide untimed local calls to 40,000 customers, the company warned yesterday...
Australian IT

Other

4  Madonna wants her name back
The Material girl! The famous singer thinks porn site owner Don Parisi is cybersquatting on Madonna.com., and she wants it back...
ZDNet

4  E-commerce gets serious about privacy
It's one thing to post a privacy policy, quite another to make it stick. Privacy officers show businesses care about customers' data...
ZDNet

4  Radiohead Takes Steps to Thwart Web Pirates
Before Radiohead's "OK Computer" was released in 1998, cassette copies were sent to the press, radio programmers and retailers in portable tape players that had been glued shut...
LA Times

4  Citing Stephen King, Netlibrary Files IPO
Netlibrary Inc., an electronic book technology company which has digitally converted more than 28,000 titles to make for what it says is the largest single collection of e-books, has filed to raise $82 million in an initial public offering...
Yahoo


Looking For More News or Information?

Try the Aardvark News Search page or look here.co.nz

Copyright © 2000, Bruce Simpson, free republication rights available on request