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Struggling ministry spends $5m to update laptops

Nov 09, 2020

A ministry hamstrung during the Covid lockdown by its lack of up-to-date laptops has spent almost $5 million buying new ones and the means to run them.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment struggled in April with thousands of workers unable to work properly from home.

It identified the lack of secure computer access as a "very high risk".

It has since spent $4.7m on 1000 laptops and equipment, licences and support services.

This is on top of a $12.5m digital overhaul the ministry was halfway through when the pandemic hit.

Although the ministry admitted at the time of the alert level 4 lockdown that its computer system was "insufficient", deputy chief executive of corporate, governance and Information Richard Griffiths, said its IT staff were not caught flat-footed.

That was despite 3800 of its 5500 staff only having access to old Windows 7 systems that would not work properly for those trying to work from home for most of the first month of lockdown.

"They did a stunning job, considering," Griffiths told RNZ in October.

By late April, MBIE told the minister of economic development it was on track to have 90 percent of staff with access, but only after struggling with a long global queue to buy laptops using the more secure Windows 10, triggered by the pandemic.

Remote access capacity in place rose from 3700 in late March to 10,800 about a month later.

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