NRPP, Averter of Disaster

Far and away the most amusing part of the NRPP Business Case that the government quietly placed online this March is the “Financial Benefits & Lifecycle Costs” section, the part where they are supposed to make the dollars-and-cents case for the project.

In order to ensure transparency and instill public confidence in the project, all the dollar figures have been replaced with “$X” in the text. So awesome!

But just as good, in the Lower Risks Exposure section, they outline in clear prose some of the resource management disasters of the past 10 years:

  • A dam collapsed and caused significant property damage after the NRS failed to enforce the need for repairs and maintenance. Contributing factors included a lack of effective record keeping, inaccurate risk/consequence ratings given to the dam, and a lack of action to address decades of warnings that the dam was in poor condition. Settlements paid by government to affected parties totaled more than $X M
  • A District Manager approved a forest development plan and awarded multiple cut blocks in a watershed; however, the decision was inappropriate and not durable because the plan was contrary to regulations and it did not consider impacts to endangered animal populations. The case was settled for $X M
  • An oil and gas company acquired a tenure in northeastern British Columbia only to find out that the NRS had not disclosed that the tenure was in an area that was considered historically and spiritually significant by a local aboriginal group. The matter proceeded through an extensive litigation process and settled for $X M

That’s some pretty bad stuff! Not the kind of thing that makes it into the average government press release!

But, being information technology people, they cannot help themselves, they look at this bad stuff and they think, “if only people had the right information at the right time, none of this would have happened”.

NRPP, Averter of Disaster

Through the implementation of an integrated spatial and operational database, a risk-based framework for compliance and enforcement activities across the province, and through facilitating information sharing across lines of business, NRPP will contribute to a significant reduction in legal risk and potentially a reduction in litigation and settlement costs.

Aren’t IT people cute! Don’t you just want to stroke their fur and take them home?!?

Non-IT people might have a different reaction to that list of calamities. They might think, “political pressures that make speed of permit approval the primary metric of good resource management are causing corners to be cut and very expensive/damaging mistakes to be made.”

Unfortunately, those are the kinds of thoughts that will quickly end careers if expressed out loud in government.

So instead, we have a new $57M IT megaproject. The kind of project that has the maximum likelihood of failure and delay: a multi-year, multi-million-dollar, maximum scope project.

Don’t worry though, it will be delivered “on time and on budget”.