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The eThekwini municipality is to cough up R900 000 for information technology experts to test the efficiency of its controversial billing system.
City manager S’bu Sithole assured councillors last month that the city would not spend more money on the new Revenue Management System (RMS) which has cost ratepayers nearly half a billion rand to develop.
The executive committee yesterday approved Sithole’s request to use R900 000 from funds budgeted for the project to appoint information technology experts.
The funds would be sourced using section 36 of the supply chain management system – used when the accounting officer deems it necessary to deviate from supply chain management regulations.
A report tabled during the meeting said the step was consistent with the Manase and Associates audit report into the city’s financial affairs and the council decision about concerns over when the project was likely to be finalised.
“The deviation from normal supply chain management has been caused by the fact that the sourcing of the relevant expertise did not go via a public call for proposals,”the report read.
“Information from State Information Technology Services was sought about experts who could undertake an assignment as complex as the RMS.”
The report said the process was constrained by a scarcity of IT skills expertise for an assignment of this nature.
“This has been complicated by the fact that ordinarily the big four audit firms would have been ideal for this work.
“However, as some of them played a role in the RMS processes, this has placed major limitations on resources available to undertake such an assignment.”
In view of the uncertainty about further development of the system, and when the project was likely to be finalised, it was “urgent” that IT experts be found.
The project should also be finalised before the submission of the annual financial statement at the end of August.
Early in 2010, a “go-live” date for the system was projected for June 30, 2011, based on an additional R77m being provided. This pushed up the cost of developing and implementing the system to R474m.
Yet there are still no definite time frames in place for its full implementation.
At least four modules of the application have gone live, incorporating revenue receipting, business support, community residential units, bulk electricity and the rates calculation model.