New Zealand's Department of Internal Affairs is investigating how much a governmental cloud computing migration will cost the country's taxpayers.

However, RNZ reported that, thus far, little information has been shared about the impact this is having on NZ citizens.

department of internal affairs
– Department of Internal Affairs, New Zealand

The New Zealand government has ordered around 200 agencies to migrate their storage and processing to the cloud, and several have done so. Internal Affairs (DIA) is now testing the cost efficiency of this move.

According to the investigation, for the 10 agencies spending the most on cloud computing, software licensing fees are up by 70 percent since 2018. In total, those 10 agencies spent almost NZ$300m (US$177.09m) on fees last year.

Within those top 10 are Te Whatu Ora, Justice and the courts, and the police, all of which are only at the beginning of their migration to the cloud.

The DIA said that NZ$1.2 billion (US$710m) has been spent on cloud services since 2017, but this only covers agencies using the all-of-government system and does not cover 'transition' costs, such as migration costs. Several agencies are not using that system, meaning that the spending isn't being effectively tracked.

The first tests on cloud computing spend have been conducted by the DIA itself, which asked cloud suppliers for its usage figures and spending. According to DIA, this has provided "direct benefits in cost savings" and the department is now testing two other public agencies over the next three months. It will eventually decide whether to roll this out government-wide.

If adopted, the DIA hopes it will be able to "calculate cloud costs related to licenses and subscriptions" but added it does not hold information about other transition costs, such as one-offs related to projects and change management, data migrations, architecture, security, consulting, and professional services undertaken by individual agencies.

"These may be held by individual agencies or various suppliers," the DIA said.

The government-wide approach to cloud migration has secured discounts for 195 agencies of between five and 40 percent. Despite this, concerns have been raised by government agencies about the costs and complexities of pricing several times.

An Official Information Act (OIA) request submitted by RNZ found that nine concerns were raised with the DIA in the last 11 months, regarding worries about the terms and complexities of contracts, uncertainty about the benefits, uncertainty about technology that may be needed in the future, reluctance to committing to a specific spend level, and other confusions.

The New Zealand government made a cabinet decision in April 2023 to adopt a "cloud-first policy," which requires government organizations to use public cloud services for information systems when possible.