Case Study 7: Information Technology Outsourcing - Opotiki District Council and Environment Bay of Plenty

Local Authorities Working Together.

Who Is Involved?

Opotiki District Council and Environment Bay of Plenty.

What Led To The Joint Arrangement?

Opotiki District Council was preparing an information technology (IT) strategy but was unable to obtain IT support at an affordable price. The strategy identified the high costs of servicing the council’s computer infrastructure and that it needed to replace its ageing computers.

At the time, Environment Bay of Plenty needed the rating and valuation data that Opotiki District Council maintained for a reclassification exercise in the river scheme areas. There was some potential that access to the data would be at risk if Opotiki District Council could not secure IT support. Part of the reciprocal agreement that was reached means that Environment Bay of Plenty has access to property data in the Opotiki District for any of their specific projects, including data-matching requirements. Environment Bay of Plenty viewed involvement at the time as consistent with its leadership and co-ordination role in the region, and as an appropriate regional use of the resources at its disposal.

How Does It Work?

A letter of engagement between the two local authorities was signed in October 1999. This was a short and informal agreement, reflecting the fact that the outsourcing relationship was still at an early stage. The agreement provided for IT servicing to the same standards as those adopted at Environment Bay of Plenty, help desk facilities to standard Environment Bay of Plenty response and escalation times, and Internet and e-mail support through a communications link to the Regional Council network.

Environment Bay of Plenty effectively integrates the provision of Opotiki District Council’s area network with its own, supporting its neighbour in the same manner as its own departments internally and throughout the region. Three Environment Bay of Plenty staff share the servicing of Opotiki District Council’s IT requirements, thereby ensuring that knowledge of Opotiki District Council’s system is shared, and that continuity of service is provided.

Over time, the nature of the services required has become clearer, and the expectations of Opotiki District Council have grown. In response, the local authorities are currently formalising their joint arrangement to better define service obligations, and Environment Bay of Plenty is assessing the time its staff spend on servicing the Opotiki District Council, drawing on data from logged requests to its help desk. The revised agreement should provide for better monitoring of service levels, and the matching of services to user requirements.

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