The Dim-Post

February 14, 2012

Shibboleth

Filed under: policy — danylmc @ 9:42 am

Stuff reports:

Prime Minister John Key has met executives from internet giant Google as plans to shake up the public sector gather steam.

Virtual jobs will replace staff as the sector moves away from frontline services to call centres and online interaction.

Mr Key said yesterday that people wanted to use their smartphones to apply for passports and other tasks, rather than wait in line in offices.

“It really doesn’t matter if there is a street frontage there … We are living in an age where kids have iPads and smartphones. That’s the modern generation … and they actually don’t want to walk in, for the most part, and be in a very long queue and be waiting for a long time.”

Last time I looked, smart-phone penetration in New Zealand was around about the 5% mark. But I guess Key’s kids and all his staffers have them, so that’s everyone in the world of the Sun King.

This isn’t a bad idea, per se – but when I hear ‘applying for passports online’, I think ‘national identity management platform’, which will be (a) expensive, (b) require a ton of public servants to implement, support and curate, unless we want to outsource the curation and warehousing of all our private data to Google, which it kind of sounds like ‘we’ do, and (c) will send quite a lot of the population into throes of paranoia.

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76 Comments »

  1. stupid idea for the masses imo (at the moment) but is there not a local tech company that he could talk to… or is our leader all about the US centric name dropping?

    Comment by shorts — February 14, 2012 @ 9:47 am

  2. outsource the curation and warehousing of all our private data to Google

    I admit to being influenced by the office tech guy, who is also firmly of the opinion that Scoop’s user data has national security implications, but that does seem… risky.

    Comment by lyndon — February 14, 2012 @ 9:51 am

  3. One word: INCIS
    (how much money did that save?)

    Comment by Roger Parkinson (@RogerParkinson) — February 14, 2012 @ 9:52 am

  4. Just ask Kim Dotcom what happens to your data if you upset Uncle Sam for any reason whatsoever.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 14, 2012 @ 9:56 am

  5. Cool, this should mean we will soon have online voting and online referenda. Only one problem with that – it’s the phones that are smart, not all the voters.

    Comment by Pete George — February 14, 2012 @ 10:00 am

  6. We sold a car in the weekend – did the bank transfer in real time (both parties were with the same bank) and then the change of ownership papers online. Excellent! Much better than the old system whereby you had to handle large amounts of cash, banks were invariably closed at the sort of times private car sales took place, you had to trust the old owner to handle the ownership transfer correctly and the new owner not to run up speeding tickets, while the whole process took about 2 weeks to complete.

    But is Key suggesting that this is a brand new initiative – saving the taxpayer millions, making our lives better and our businesses more efficient – and is some sort of out-of-the-box thinking he is responsible for? Because if he is, he’s a fool and anyone who falls for his “technology is the panacea” is a fool too. The public sector in NZ is already using new technology to improve straightforward transactional business involving government agencies. Making more services available to smart phone users is just a continuation of what already happens.

    Comment by MeToo — February 14, 2012 @ 10:00 am

  7. Roger, INCIS saved the NZ taxpayer around -$100m. That was about 1/8th (12.5%) of the Police annual budget at the time.

    The current 15% budget squeeze the Police are dealing with sounds about right then.

    Comment by MeToo — February 14, 2012 @ 10:06 am

  8. iGovt already exists (http://www.i.govt.nz) and is being used already by government agencies. It’s running out of a NZ data centre and to move it offshore would involve some massive changes to the rules around offshore use of technology in Government (http://www.ict.govt.nz/guidance-and-resources/agency-guides/government-use-offshore-ict-service-providers).

    The Identity Verification service which is part of iGovt actually offers citizens a much safer method of providing their personal information to different government agencies than currently exists. Any system that involves getting a piece of paper from DIA and then physically presenting it at different agencies where it is copied means that a citizen’s information can be intercepted or worst lost in all sorts of ways. Having the iGovt platform assert your identity and then have the needed information directly transferred into only the IT system it needs to be in, has less risk and will in all likelihood be logged every step of the process.

    Comment by R Singers — February 14, 2012 @ 10:15 am

  9. It’s just Key’s way of announcing a stimulus package.

    Comment by Chris Bull — February 14, 2012 @ 10:15 am

  10. Once, all our administration and decisions were made in London – Key wants to hand it over to the ‘cloud”. The full extent of Key’s cringing colonialism is revealed in the minset that sees no problems with parts of our sovereignty being outsourced for profit to global corporations.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 14, 2012 @ 10:16 am

  11. @5 I dunno Pete, the voters seemed smart enough to not vote for UF.

    Comment by Chris Bull — February 14, 2012 @ 10:16 am

  12. “Mr Key said yesterday that people wanted to use their smartphones to apply for passports and other tasks, rather than wait in line in offices”
    Last time I applied for a passport I didn’t go to an office.

    Comment by MikeG — February 14, 2012 @ 10:34 am

  13. “Mr Key said yesterday that people like him wanted to use their smartphones to apply for passports and other tasks, rather than wait in line in offices with the peasants”

    Edited for truth.

    As Danyl notes, smartphone penetration is about 5%.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 14, 2012 @ 10:36 am

  14. The smartphone issue is a red herring, as Internet use is more relevant, but your figure is also out of date. AUT’s leg of the World Internet Project, reported in Dec 2011, showed that 86% of NZers had Internet access and 27% of them (23% of population) used smartphones and other handheld wireless devices. 98% of 12-29 year olds used the Internet (p.32 of report).

    http://www.aut.ac.nz/research/research-institutes/icdc/projects/world-internet-project

    Comment by Dave Guerin — February 14, 2012 @ 10:37 am

  15. I suppose all of this is contingent on asset sales to pay for decent broadband infrastructure – and here was me thinking Key didn’t have a plan!

    Comment by MeToo — February 14, 2012 @ 10:41 am

  16. Danyl, the cranky 85 year old Winston Peters voter you have sublet the Dim Post to over the summer may turn this blog into the home of KDS (Key Derangement Syndrome) sufferers. Narrows the audience a little. Time to send him back to the Dannevirke Eventide Home.

    Comment by Tinakori — February 14, 2012 @ 10:46 am

  17. Yeah Danyl, go back to slagging off Labour. They’re the only ones worth your derision.

    Comment by MeToo — February 14, 2012 @ 10:56 am

  18. “16.Danyl, the cranky 85 year old Winston Peters voter you have sublet the Dim Post to over the summer ”

    heh, classic.

    Comment by gn — February 14, 2012 @ 11:00 am

  19. I’ve just replaced my passport and the whole process worked well. The ‘hardest’ bit is getting the expressionless photo taken that has the right proportions.

    I don’t doubt that the whole process could be handled ‘online’ but I wonder what problem that would be solving? What about the huge percentage of the population who don’t use a computer everyday; does that mean there would be two parallel systems, one that is paper based and one online?

    Maybe doing it all online would be cheaper; then again they could 1/2 the effective cost of a passport by making them last for 10 years (like they used to) rather than for just 5 years.

    Comment by ieuan — February 14, 2012 @ 11:08 am

  20. I have a plan, we could rent the SAS to the united States. The SAS are basically mercenaries already anyway, we should outsource their funding as a pilot scheme for the entire armed forces. Imagine, we could become the Swiss mercenaries of the South Pacific! Say goodbye to youth unemployment – and currently unemployable gang members would be perfect mercenary fodder. Google schmoogle, ExxonMobil got a problem with a peasant revolt in Nigeria? We’ve got 8,000 soldiers available right now! No need to downsize the Territorials, not when they could be making the country a fortune violently suppressing dissent on behalf of the EuroTroika in Greece. Blackwater makes over a 100 billion in revenues every year, all that foreign currency, we neeeeeeds a slice of that pie, yuuuummmmm…. Mercenary pie!

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 14, 2012 @ 11:09 am

  21. I’ve never waited in line for a New Zealand Passport. You always send it away, and get the passport a couple of weeks later. Key is talking rot again. What he actually wants to do is to replace front line staff, with call centre staff in order to save money. This is not necessarily a bad thing (provided the balance is right), except that he is talking to Google, implying that those call centre staff will be offshore, and therefore NZ will be paying money overseas for a vastly inferior service. Customer service is all about providing good service to your customers. I don’t believe that can be done out of Bangalore (or similar).

    Comment by Brent — February 14, 2012 @ 11:09 am

  22. @MeToo Can you give your reference?
    I can’t see actual figures in the 2000 Ministerial report, though it is not very positive: “The INCIS Project achieved some of its objectives but did not achieve many of its primary objectives.”
    Relevant quote for this discussion “Over-ambitious technology should be avoided.”

    Also, does Key know that you can actually get Internet on things other than smartphones and ipads?
    Personally I prefer developing for the web and ignoring the App options. Browsers are getting smarter (eg location services are showing up, possibly we’ll see orientation before long)
    So if I write for the browser my stuff runs everywhere, including laptops and desktops (I know life is not quite that simple, different browsers etc, but easier than the difference between web and app development).
    It would be a shame if the taxpayer spent lots of $$ developing Apps for a platform that vanished in a few years (INCIS again, remember OS/2? Then they had to migrate to Windows NT).

    Comment by Roger Parkinson (@RogerParkinson) — February 14, 2012 @ 11:17 am

  23. Re: Online voting

    Worst. Idea. Ever.

    Seriously, talk to anyone who knows anything about information security and they’ll tell you the same thing.

    Comment by Rob — February 14, 2012 @ 11:30 am

  24. “…Re: Online voting

    Worst. Idea. Ever…”

    Unless the tobacco industry like it, then it will just be common sense.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 14, 2012 @ 11:34 am

  25. Rog,
    “Dangerous Enthusiasms: E-government, computer failure and information system development” by Robin Gauld and Shaun Goldfinch, Otago University Press, 2006.

    It’s a litany of ICT failure in the NZ public sector.

    Comment by MeToo — February 14, 2012 @ 11:36 am

  26. “16.Danyl, the cranky 85 year old Winston Peters voter you have sublet the Dim Post to over the summer ”

    Very good and very true.

    Bring back the satire.

    Comment by merv — February 14, 2012 @ 11:39 am

  27. 26.”It’s a litany of ICT failure in the NZ public sector.”

    Why do you think Key is talking to Google?

    Comment by merv — February 14, 2012 @ 11:40 am

  28. “Why do you think Key is talking to Google?”

    Because he wants to cut more public sector jobs and send the money to the USA instead

    Comment by nommopilot — February 14, 2012 @ 11:48 am

  29. Oh yeah Merv, let’s hand over the operation of our public sector to Google. That’ll solve everything.

    The book identifies traits associated with projects that fail. One of these is having enthusiastic projections about what the project can achieve and turning a blind eye to problems. Sounds like Key to me…

    Note that there are also ICT success stories in the public sector. I know nothing of iGov, but if it is working, you’d be taking a huge risk replacing it.

    Comment by MeToo — February 14, 2012 @ 11:49 am

  30. You guys do have KDS. Seek help/comfort over at The Standard.

    Comment by merv — February 14, 2012 @ 11:52 am

  31. Responding to the issues again I see Merv.

    Comment by MeToo — February 14, 2012 @ 12:02 pm

  32. It’s a litany of ICT failure in the NZ public sector.

    This phrase is axiomatic. I’m surprised it justified the research.

    Though in fairness, you could replace ‘public sector’ with ‘business domain when you attempt to solve business process issues with technology’.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 14, 2012 @ 12:04 pm

  33. MeToo

    One of these is having enthusiastic projections about what the project can achieve and turning a blind eye to problems.

    This is iGov also.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 14, 2012 @ 12:06 pm

  34. @33

    Oh dear. If anyone can point me in the direction of sources on the problems with iGov, I’d be delighted (the only delight I take from this!)

    Comment by MeToo — February 14, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

  35. There are some interesting legal issues which would have to be legislated for Google to become the provider of choice. For example currently any taxpayer who wants to hold records offshore has to apply for permission to do so from the IRD. This requirement is presently the matter of some debate between the IRD and Cloud based providers such as Xero.

    To me the question of locating information provided to a Government agency offshore (eg in a server) is a fundamental matter of sovereignity and should be vigorously and openly debated not just implemented by fiat as is the Nact’s way. I rather suspect the PM has underestimated the tricky and devilish details involved. Again.

    Comment by TerryB — February 14, 2012 @ 12:23 pm

  36. meanwhile our beloved PM flags a $1 billion computer upgrade for IRD…

    Comment by MikeG — February 14, 2012 @ 12:24 pm

  37. @16 not only sounds like Winston but has his way with facts as well.

    “Smartphones now account for 43% of the New Zealand mobile phone market.” http://billbennett.co.nz/2011/12/20/samsung-top-phone-brand-in-new-zealand/

    NZ ranks 10th in the world for smartphone ownership at 1.8 million smartphones, 42% penetration per capita
    http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2011/12/smartphone-penetration-rates-by-country-we-have-good-data-finally.html and

    Comment by Dave — February 14, 2012 @ 12:25 pm

  38. I’ve never waited in line for a New Zealand Passport.

    Neither have I, yet. But I have wasted hours of my life queing for driver licencing, WINZ, IRD, airline check-in, banking, post, voting, and so on.

    Using/engaging in many of these services are much easier, and substantially lest time-intensive, today because of smart portable technology that has really taken off over the last decade.

    My time is precious to me. I want to see more companies and Gov’t departments recognise that.

    Comment by Phil — February 14, 2012 @ 12:26 pm

  39. MikeG: To be fair, the IRD is using technology from the 90’s and earlier. It needs some serious capital injection if it wants to increase capability and accessibility for end-users.

    Comment by Simon Poole — February 14, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

  40. Smartphone penetration is more like 15% or so, but regardless of that the issue is that Key has conflated the interwebs with an iPad. An online strategy for government services is actually a damn good idea in theory (and tbf any half-decent online strategy these days needs to account for mobile device usage), although solid examples of successful execution globally would be nice…

    Comment by garethw — February 14, 2012 @ 12:41 pm

  41. I think we should save our outrage for Key’s replacing the Passport Office with Google until he actually says he’s going to do it, myself.

    “Danyl, the cranky 85 year old Winston Peters voter you have sublet the Dim Post to over the summer”

    Ouch, nasty.

    Maybe the time has come for the satirist to be satirised?

    Comment by Hugh — February 14, 2012 @ 12:42 pm

  42. You’ve been able to download, complete and send in your passport applications and supporting documents for years. Why they don’t just verify you’re still alive, check your ‘file’ for reasons to not issue one, then just send you a new one when you need it……I have no idea. Starting over from scratch every 5 years with the same old dog-eared documents you used last time (and the time before that..and the….) seems…….dumb.

    Comment by Steve (@nza1) — February 14, 2012 @ 12:51 pm

  43. Hugh, agree with you. The satire was good the limp urban liberal left pontification is tiresome

    Comment by merv — February 14, 2012 @ 12:54 pm

  44. Oh dear. If anyone can point me in the direction of sources on the problems with iGov, I’d be delighted (the only delight I take from this!)

    @ Metoo

    Without getting into potential issues re libel, it would be fair to say the former Dept.of Infernal Affairs Deputy Chief Executive Knowledge, Information, Research and Technology (and peviously GM Govt Technology Services) has had, as you would expect, significant influence of the overall iGov planning and execution to date and thus, its relative success against stated objectives.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 14, 2012 @ 1:16 pm

  45. Simon P: Fair comment – my thought was more about the $1 billion, and how much of that will be sucked up by foreign-owned software and/or consultancy companies.

    Comment by MikeG — February 14, 2012 @ 1:19 pm

  46. Anyone who has tried to get tech support from Google would prefer the queues, I think.

    Comment by Owen — February 14, 2012 @ 1:31 pm

  47. MikeG: I wouldn’t have a clue about the cost of overhauling the system. They do need to do some serious work, however. It has been on the IRD’s radar for quite a while. For example, the 2009 Finance and Expenditure Committee report on Vote Revenue notes that the Department is quite concerned at its aging administration processes.

    http://www.parliament.nz/NR/rdonlyres/91D5DB30-A5B2-46B6-96B5-1FA7BD19C80F/109420/DBSCH_SCR_4435_200910EstimatesforVoteRevenue_6906_.pdf

    (I was in the room, which is why I knew to look it up. I don’t memorise the contents of budget documents, I promise)

    Comment by Simon Poole — February 14, 2012 @ 1:32 pm

  48. at/with, whatever. Off to a late lunch.

    Comment by Simon Poole — February 14, 2012 @ 1:36 pm

  49. Ta GW, have some familiarity with the DIA KIT people, will follow this up on me own…

    Comment by MeToo — February 14, 2012 @ 1:41 pm

  50. @ MikeG

    $1Bn is probably about right given that it would be spread over at least a 10yr lifecycle and it will be (i) bespoked to shit and (ii) constantly re-litigated in terms of requirement/specification.

    Wait till the costs of change requests come in – scope creep is the death knell of any proposed budget.

    Also the OPEX cost would typically be about 12-20% per year so it does add up (unless of course this Cost of Ownership has been included in the figure?).

    I suspect most of the $ would be spend on NZ ‘flagged’ integrators/consultancies (local Booz Allen Hamilton, PWC, Oracle, IBM, EDS etc.) rather than offshore consultancies specifically.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 14, 2012 @ 1:49 pm

  51. “I’ve never waited in line for a New Zealand Passport.”

    Likewise. I find the heavy use of paper forms and snail-mail postage more annoying. I post things so infrequently these days that when it’s required, it’s sort of annoying. (Buy an envelope, buy a stamp, find a pen, etc etc.) 20 years ago it would’ve been easy because it was common. Passports are only every 5 years, though.

    Comment by MikeM — February 14, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

  52. @Pete: “Re: Online voting”

    @Rob: “Worst. Idea. Ever. Seriously, talk to anyone who knows anything about information security and they’ll tell you the same thing.

    It’s not just information security, it’s the entire concept of being able to vote anonymously and without threats or influence from others. Electronic counting is slightly different if it’s done well and with a good paper trail, though.

    Comment by MikeM — February 14, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

  53. “Passports are only every 5 years, though.”

    More like 4.5 years due to many coutries requiring it be vaild for at least 6 months after arrival, or something.

    The “cloud” doesn’t have to be overseas, Cloud doesn’t just mean software- or servers-for-hire via the public internet. The govt could create it’s own cloud, private to itself and its agencies. And education institutions, maybe. Some fairy ordinary outsourcing models seem to meet the definition (in the vendors minds at least) of ‘cloud computing”.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 14, 2012 @ 2:18 pm

  54. I’m aware of the issues with onlone voting. I was digging at Key’s huge embrace of smart and onlinetech.

    Politicians and government departments tend to like technology when it’s for them dealing with the public. They are not so keen on enabling the public to use technology to deal to politicians.

    So voting is problematic, but engaging, debating, and getting indicative online polls or referenda are easily do-able. The politicians won’t readily give us that, so we need to do it for them.

    Comment by Pete George — February 14, 2012 @ 2:20 pm

  55. As the partner of someone who regularly destroys or loses their phone, I can say that, although smartphone penetration in our household is currently 0%, it is unlikley to go much above 50% when I finally do join the 21st century.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 14, 2012 @ 2:23 pm

  56. >> …smart-phone penetration in New Zealand was around about the 5% mark

    I would agree with other comments that 5% is misleading.

    Everyone I know who has traveled recently, including my elderly parents, purchased their air tickets online.

    It seems reasonable to be able to apply for passports and visas online as well.

    Comment by Graeme — February 14, 2012 @ 2:33 pm

  57. The IRD system a bit like MSD’s system was designed for big batch processing back in the day – that was when Cobol 74 was the bees kness. The system as had many bolt-ons since then e.g., kiwisaver, student loans for which the system was never originally designed for, so lots of work arounds. Time eventually catches up to all of us.

    Comment by WH — February 14, 2012 @ 3:03 pm

  58. I remember when DimPost used to be funny. Now it’s just the ill-informed and poorly fact-checked sanctimonious rantings. Apparently having a kid is just that bad for you.

    Comment by R — February 14, 2012 @ 4:56 pm

  59. While it’s well intentioned, two words immediately came to mind with the announcement: digital divide.

    Comment by DeepRed — February 14, 2012 @ 7:20 pm

  60. but at least you’re here to entertain us, anonymous single-letter guy.

    Comment by nommopilot — February 14, 2012 @ 7:28 pm

  61. Can you imagine the hipster/tech geek/chatterati outrage if Key had said that the govt wouldn’t be rolling out services that could be accessed by smartphones?

    @pete george: Politicians and government departments tend to like technology when it’s for them dealing with the public. They are not so keen on enabling the public to use technology to deal to politicians.

    That’s just nonsense. Other than electronic voting pretty much any interaction on engaging in policy processes or legislation is as accessible via technology as it by any other means.

    Comment by Richard — February 14, 2012 @ 7:45 pm

  62. “That’s just nonsense. Other than electronic voting pretty much any interaction on engaging in policy processes or legislation is as accessible via technology as it by any other means.”

    I think Pete wants the government to read his blog comments rather than having to post submissions online…

    Comment by nommopilot — February 14, 2012 @ 7:48 pm

  63. “Can you imagine the hipster/tech geek/chatterati outrage if Key had said that the govt wouldn’t be rolling out services that could be accessed by smartphones? ”

    I think the annoyance isn’t so much with the inclusion of smartphones, but with the assumption that “most” people have a spare $500+ to spend on a cellphone. If we really are “living in an age where kids have iPads and smartphones” what’s with our poverty stats?

    If an internet connection (still overpriced after 2 decades of over-profiting, under-investing telcos) becomes necessary for civic engagement it’s going to be that much harder for those who can’t afford to be on teh interwebz

    Comment by nommopilot — February 14, 2012 @ 8:03 pm

  64. This is typical Key bullshit.
    This govt was always going to shaft the public service to pay for its borrowings to
    pay for the wealthy tax cuts.

    Typically Key introduces a side issue (and frankly I think an important one) that is “off topic”.

    Attention to the ideological “slash and burn” agenda is deflected, once again.

    Comment by peterlepaysan — February 14, 2012 @ 8:08 pm

  65. I think the annoyance isn’t so much with the inclusion of smartphones, but with the assumption that “most” people have a spare $500+ to spend on a cellphone.

    Some people can’t afford a phone line, should we get rid of call centres? I don’t think there’s been any suggestion that services or access is going to be withdrawn for those who can’t afford smartphones/internet/stamps. Call me a cynic but I think much of the annoyance has more to do with Key’s statement providing a reminder for some people of their own internal narrative about Key being a rich prick.

    Comment by Richard — February 14, 2012 @ 10:06 pm

  66. It’s funny how these digs at Key regularly link Key to Judaism through word choice such as shibboleth which makes me wonder about the feelings and implications behind the word choices.

    Comment by stephen — February 15, 2012 @ 4:33 am

  67. Well, yes – use of the appropriate word ‘shibboleth’ in this context is either carefully-concealed anti-semitism, or a reflection of the fact that the Bible’s had a pretty strong influence on western culture. I guess we’ll just never know which it was…

    Comment by Psycho Milt — February 15, 2012 @ 7:44 am

  68. Psycho Milt I suggest you go check your dictionary. I cannot read anti-semitism in any of the various meanings of the word Shibboleth. In fact as it could be seen to refer to an ideas as outmoded or no longer acceptable or even better it could refer to project http://shibboleth.internet2.edu/ Either way it is quite clever and we should just enjoy the humour intended or not

    Comment by Ron — February 15, 2012 @ 9:13 am

  69. It’s funny how these digs at Key regularly link Key to Judaism through word choice such as shibboleth which makes me wonder about the feelings and implications behind the word choices.

    Only if you’re grasping at straws.
    I’m not sure too many people gave a shit that Julius Vogel or Francis Bell were Jewish.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 15, 2012 @ 9:49 am

  70. #64 “I don’t think there’s been any suggestion that services or access is going to be withdrawn”

    No, you’re probably right. The plan is to save money by transferring as many transactions to the web as possible without reducing front-line staff or closing small rural offices in provincial areas. Call me cynical but the reason for this announcement is that they want to close down some offices and this will be fine (in fact probably better) for those of us with constant internet access but inevitably more difficult for those without.

    Comment by nommopilot — February 15, 2012 @ 10:55 am

  71. For anyone that has ever had to apply for National Superannuation it can be quite an experience. You are physically required to front up at DSW office and bring something like a passport or birth certificate. Of course if you are not an overseas traveller and don’t have a passport you must then go to Births Registrar and get a copy and spend some money. As they have no idea at Births who the hell you are and ordering a certificate does not prove you are the person on the certificate as anyone can order a birth certificate for anyone. Don’t try pointing this out to Department as you will be lucky if you get back to DSW in the next year.
    Once you have certificate (which can be a week or more) its back to DSW another meeting and through the whole process again. Of course its a different person serving you so they presume the first person was an idiot so you have to repeat everything, sign more forms etc.
    I cannot for he life of me see why this can not be automated. The whole thing should be doable online with one application and leave the system to check on birth validity etc. Yes they do have to check for fraud and all that but there are ways to do that without all the rigmarole.
    Oh and don’t do what I did after a couple of months I wanted to change bank accounts it took just as much process and two meetings at DSW plus a signed statement from my new bank saying I had an account at that bank.
    Roll on more automation.

    I figured out the whole process is to show people what it is like to have to stand in line with 100’s of people wanting to register for the dole even if you only want to hand them a piece of paper, It is quite an eye opener to visit DSW during the middle of the day

    Comment by Ron — February 15, 2012 @ 11:20 am

  72. @ nommo

    Smartphones were as cheap as chips over Xmas. Well below $200 for high spec nokias, samsungs and LGs on prepay. That probably pushed penetration rates up 5% and CDMA closedown will add to that this year. I know some people just ‘have’ to have an iphone or galaxy S2, but you don’t have to actually.

    Comment by insider — February 15, 2012 @ 11:21 am

  73. Why is he talking to google apart from impressing we peasants? http://nowoccupy.blogspot.com/2012/02/creating-more-jobs-in-silicon-valley.html

    Comment by Monique Angel (@Orcs2Elves) — February 15, 2012 @ 11:52 am

  74. @Ron : The automated processes won’t happen for WINZ or DSW (ie. the agencies that give out money) because the bureaucratic stupidity is one of the crucial defences against the unemployed masses actually getting benefits they are entitled to. Waiting in long queues to hand the same document in several times over a period of weeks is part of the fun fun fun “Unempoyed Lifestyle (TM)” that so many well-off people resent funding. You’ll notice the billion dollars is being spent on upgrading the IRD systems (money-gathering agency).

    *NB I’m not against this per se… just wary of yet another plan to cut costs which will result in more job-losses, mega-budget-blowouts and most likely worse services…

    @71 : Yes you’re right we can now buy electronics for very cheap. But you still have to pay for the internet/cellphone bill etc and even a $200 device is beyond the reach of a family who has to forego heat in the winter in order to afford to feed their kids…

    Comment by nommopilot — February 15, 2012 @ 12:17 pm

  75. Further to #56, Work and Income’s main system for benefit payments was DOS-based (when I worked there about three years ago), so the significant investment flagged by commenters here holds for what exists there – though I can’t speak for other parts of the public sector.

    If other Ministries/Departments etc. also work on far outdated systems of the like of Work and Income’s pre-internet software, with all the subsequent tack-ons – which you know have been developed, and managed at great expense by third parties (HP etc) – then there really is room for work to at least bring the systems into contemporary society.

    Whether that then transfers through to enabling smart technology (at the expense of actual jobs – which seems a superfluous concern to Key, English et al) may also explain the great expense.

    The issue for all of this will be managing the impact on real families, and retaining control over our own systems – in a logical way that doen’t mean having inflated ongoing costs and delays when competing for profile to get things done.

    Comment by Pete — February 15, 2012 @ 1:14 pm

  76. “Smartphones were as cheap as chips over Xmas. Well below $200 for high spec nokias, samsungs and LGs on prepay. ”
    Good point, cos the working poor had loads of spare money over christmas.

    If only some charities (and govt departments) could divert money away from “awareness raising” and perhaps work with, i dunno, public libraries to give internet access* (and perhaps a friendly volunteer to assist).
    *Yep, most already do. It’s not the complete answer, but it may be an inexpensive way of bringing google to the masses.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 15, 2012 @ 1:18 pm


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