Another $169M wasted on a Family Court System that is NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE

DXC NZ to deliver $169M ‘Te Au Reka’ courts transformation

Implementation to be in three phases, starting with the Family Court.

Rob O’Neill (New Zealand Reseller News)30 August, 2023

Andrew Kibblewhite (Secretary of Justice)
Andrew Kibblewhite (Secretary of Justice)

DXC has concluded commercial negotiations to deliver transformation at NZ’s courts and tribunals in a project worth in the region of $169 million.

Last week, secretary for justice Andrew Kibblewhite told Parliament’s Justice Committee that procurement for the project, dubbed Te Au Reka, had been completed, with DXC Technology the winner out of two shortlisted providers. 

“They use Microsoft-based systems,” Kibblewhite said. “I would prefer not to talk in the detail of the money in this session, because we are still going through some processes with them.  

“For the context, though, in 2022, the disclosure that was already made public at that point was that the CapEx [capital expenditure] was expected to be in the order of $130 million back in 2022 – I’m just deliberately using money that was previously in the public domain – with OpEx [operating expenses] for the project about $39 million. 

“So, it’s of that sort of order.”

$7.8 million had been spent so far through various design processes, the procurement and the development of business cases, he added.

Victoria McLaughlin, deputy secretary of Te Au Reka at the Ministry of Justice told the committee Te Au Reka was the first joint procurement the ministry had done with the judiciary.

“So over nine months, we’ve gone through a very rigorous process with them, resulting in final offers from two and commercial negotiations with two parties, and DXC was the successful vendor through that process,” she said.

Implementation would be in three phases, starting in the Family Court, but also ensuring through proof of concepts that the resulting system was “truly multi-jurisdictional” for use across the different parts of the system.

The second phase is criminal and the last civil, District Courts, the Environment Court and into tribunals.

“At the completion of that, we believe we’ll have the key patterns that then can be applied into some other courts and tribunals that aren’t in that main cluster,” McLaughlin said. 

“I think it’s key to recognise, though, that we’re trying to build up our own capability through this so that we can continue to configure [and] learn over time.” 

National justice spokesperson Paul Goldsmith asked whether the project involved taking an existing system from another country or whether the project had “gone full bespoke.” 

DXC had implemented in other courts and jurisdictions around the world including Australia and supported implementations in the UK and Denmark,” McLaughlin said.  

“They are certainly bringing those lessons from that experience and also seeing how much of that they can reuse for us.  

“So that’s a key part of the work that’s coming up over the next 12 months – is seeing how much of that we can actually leverage here in New Zealand, recognising there’ll be some things that we do and there’ll be parts that we probably won’t want to bring on board.” 

Kibblewhite noted the UK had gone through a version of the same process and it hadn’t gone well.

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“It’s caused – I mean, they’ll get a lot of gain from it, but it’s had big overruns, it’s taken longer, it’s caused a lot of angst and grief there,” he said. 

“So it’s been done with variable success in different places, and we’re trying to, obviously, tap into that learning.” 

There would “absolutely” be a productivity element, Kibblewhite said, the project would bring a much clearer sense of where things were at to the whole system. 

The productivity would come in lots of different places, he said.

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McLaughlin said the technology would be highly configurable and configurable by Justice staff, rather than “deep, dark code in the system that’s hard to shift”.

Asked why the Family Court was chosen for the early stage of the rollout, Kibblewhite said: “The current systems are probably least well suited to the Family Court, so why not start where the pain of the current systems is felt most sharply?” 

Carl Crafar, chief operating officer operations and service delivery at the ministry, said the project was the most significant change in courts’ history. 

“So, we wouldn’t want anybody to underestimate how big this is,” he said, “not just for court staff; this is the interface with the profession, with judiciary, for staff, Police, Corrections, everybody.” 

In March, DXC Technology announced Michael Kirkaldy, the company’s NZ public sector leader, would take over from Stuart Dickinson as country manager

‘Te Au Reka’ is a phrase used in a Tairāwhiti, east coast karakia or Māori prayer for the opening of a new meeting house.  



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