Labour off-beam on IRD computer system

Monday 1 October 2012, 7:28PM
By Peter Dunne

Claims by Labour’s David Clark about Inland Revenue’s computer system are “simply mischievous, ill-informed and downright ignorant”, Revenue Minister Peter Dunne said today.

“He is playing typical Opposition politics and adding one and one and quite deliberately getting five,” Mr Dunne said.

Dr Clark had claimed a recent privacy breach and temporary peak period telephone response issues were because of Inland Revenue’s computer system, which he said the Government was showing no urgency in upgrading.

“Dr Clark is completely wrong on every count,” Mr Dunne said.

“The recent privacy breach had nothing to do with the FIRST computer system or Inland Revenue’s online systems. Nor was it the result of staffing levels.

“It was a simple manual handling error – human error. Unfortunately correspondence was mistakenly placed in the incorrect envelope and sent out,” he said.

Mr Dunne said recent phone issues similarly had nothing to do with the Department’s computer systems.

“This issue emerged at the department’s busiest time of the year when customers could unfortunately experience some delays.

“As we stated publicly at the time, we understood that some people found these delays frustrating and Inland Revenue apologised to them.

“Unfortunately it is difficult to always accurately forecast peak demand because there are so many variable factors. These factors were compounded by winter illness issues among call centre staff, but this was covered at the time by redeployed staff answering calls,” Mr Dunne said.

“Again, this had nothing to do with the computer system.”

Mr Dunne said, however, that the redevelopment of the Department’s computer system through the business transformation programme is Inland Revenue’s top current priority. 

“The fact is the current system will meet projected future volume processing demands for the next five to ten years.

“However, Inland Revenue is developing a long-term programme of work to modernise the way it delivers tax and social policy services, and this will be done through a phased approach to technology renewal,” he said.

“This transformation programme will provide the framework through which Inland Revenue will respond to needs and policies as they develop in the years ahead.

“Dr Clark should know that such a major transformation cannot be done overnight,” Mr Dunne said.