Cost of visa system rises to $91.5m

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 05:00 18/12/2013

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The cost of a new software system that will let Immigration New Zealand centralise the processing of visa applications has crept up by $11.5 million to reach $91.5m.

The Immigration Global Management System (IGMS) will also allow foreigners apply for New Zealand visas online.

The Government had allowed an extra $10m for "contingencies" but the additional spending means that buffer has now been entirely used up two years before the core elements of the project are due to be completed.

Immigration NZ integration director Mark Bermingham said an extra $5m was required to support multilingual application forms, which were not part of the original design but which the Government had decided were required.

Bermingham said the bill could rise by a further $13.3m to pay for other enhancements which would be subject to individual business cases and funded from the Business, Innovation and Employment Ministry's budget.

Immigration NZ had planned to trial IGMS with some overseas students in September but the software for that will not now be ready until the first half of next year.

Bermingham said all the key functions of IGMS would still be delivered, on time, by the end of 2015. IGMS is being built by Kiwi firm Datacom.

The investment in IGMS was first proposed by the Labour government in 2007 after a Thai national working for Immigration NZ in Bangkok was caught swindling thousands of dollars from Cambodian visa applicants in 2003.

A subsequent auditor-general's report found flaws in the department's ability to prevent and detect identity fraud.

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