Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Showpony with the cart in front?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-05-19

Robert McClelland’s 2008-08-16 announcement of a consultation on a personal property securities law overhaul and associated register (more details at The Wonkery) raises my eyebrows because tenders to build the computer system central to the entire effort (RFT No. 08/9769) are due 2008-06-27, nearly two months before submissions close (2008-08-15) for the consultation that supposedly influences what the system is supposed to do!

Personal Properties Securities involve taking a security interest in all types of property other than real estate, such as for cars, boats and livestock.  In theory, at least, the register should make things much easier for businesses and their lawyers.

So, the initiative is probably a very good one, but given that tenders require detailed functional specifications to provide halfway-reasonable costings, I’ve got to wonder if governments are putting the cart before the horse.

It’s worth remembering an excellent rule of thumb from the IT industry…

If it costs you $1 to make a change while it’s merely on paper, it will cost you $10 to make the same change once building has started, $100 to make the same change if people inside your organization are using it, and $1000 for the same change once people outside your organization are using it.

So, if you are tendering, and hoping to be the lowest tender, you’ll be unlikely to deal with all the nuances that are discovered in the consultation process.

So… either the consultation is merely for show and everything is already decided, or else the consultation is for real, and we are just begging for massive cost blowouts!

Such practices are probably more common than we realize.


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