Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pakula in charge of the cheque blank

How does $494m for a new public transport ticketing system (“myki”) blow out to $1,300m (or $1,400m) yet remain within the same “financial parameters” *? New Transport Minister Martin Pakula is the latest in a long line of short-tenure Transport ministers and Transport Ticketing Authority chairmen, CEOs and spokespersons, all of which have successfully dodged, so far, this billion-dollar question. Albeit some left skid marks in their haste: former (and inaugural) TTA CEO Vivian Miners abruptly quit one day before he was due to give evidence to a Victorian parliamentary committee on the state’s ticketing tender.

In his first day on the job, Minister Pakula conspicuously caught the train towards home, only to be met at his local station (not walking distance, but bus-serviced) by his taxpayer-funded, chauffeured 4WD (penultimate URL). Like flying your private 747 to guest-speak at a global warming conference, Pakula’s transport arrangements are a handy emblem of public-private partnerships in general.

The last mile, the fine print of the contract, more than undoes the whole point of the exercise - yet this sordid excess is either wholly exempt from scrutiny ("commercial in confidence"), or, like Pakula's 4WD expedition home through the manicured streets of Black Rock, quickly-forgotten tabloid fodder.

* [For the myki tender,] TTA was able to maintain its output-based requirement, achieve broad intellectual property rights and deliver a contract within the financial parameters set by Government. TTA is confident that the procurement result will provide the best opportunity to deliver a truly world class solution for Melbourne.
- Vivian Miners, CEO (page 5, emphasis added)

a world class fare payment solution for a world class city
(page 6, all lower case, in large letters with a page to itself, and all rendered, no doubt, in a world class font)

The RFT [i.e. myki tender] was strongly outcome-based, with a broad warranty regime, including a ‘Fit For Purpose’ requirement. These concepts represented a ground-breaking approach to the development of an integrated smartcard ticketing system. It was designed to ensure that the onus remains with the successful contractor to deliver a solution that meets, and continues to meet, the requirements set out in the tender, industry best practice and Victorians’ needs for a world-class fare payment system. (page 7)

Above 3 quotes from Transport Ticketing Authority 2004-2005 (signed off September 2005) Annual Report.

Update 24 Feb
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