In praise of Coys..update

Posted: December 1, 2009 in Company data, NZ Government
Tags: ,

Carrying on from our earlier post, “In praise of Coys” from (have we mentioned we like that site?), Justin Hygate, Group Manager, Business Registries Group at the Ministry of Economic Development has responded via comments at 9:20am today:

Justin Hygate – Group Manager Business Registries Group December 1, 2009 at 10:11 am

I work for and am responding in that capacity. Thanks for the interesting piece on and

I would be remiss in not defending our website and the great team behind it. We don’t actually agree that our website is horrible to use and could bombard you with all sorts of statistics to show that it is extremely popular and well used.

We do openly acknowledge it could be improved however. Some the issues are technolgy ones such as our awful old java search (lovely in its’ day) and some relate to our old data model (eligible to become a world heritage site in itself). We have been doing a fair bit below the surface to enable some pretty significant changes in the future (and hopefully to allow more nimble changes thereafter).

We are launching the long awaited replacement to the existing site on 31 May 2010 (yep there is a date). The new tool, Enterprise, is not merely replacing the website but a rebuild of the core Companies Office database.

The existing tool (BizNet) was commissioned in the late 1990s and while it has served us well was built using an old data model that has prevented us from doing some of the clever things we need to do (and that others will also be able to use).

It might be worth noting that the very fact that clever people like Anton (and we agree it is a clever site) can build sites like is that we allow and encourage access to our G2B (government to business) web service tools.

You will be aware that there are a large number of people around the place who believe that government should build web services not websites. We like that idea.

Obviously we have a statutory obligation to provide access to the companies register (and other registers we maintain) and we believe we do a pretty good job in that respect (25 million visits a month suggest a little interest!). We will continue to provide an easy to use web site enabling access to the New Zealand Companies Office services; it doesn’t mean however those others can’t also do the clever stuff that they’re doing.

I don’t wish to hide behind the bureaucracy or legislative stuff either but there are some areas we need to be a little fussier about than others. At the moment in New Zealand the Companies Act 1993 doesn’t allow for the collection of a date of birth for directors. This means we are unable to make definitive statements around individuals. Our new service will allow these connections to be made by the individuals themselves. At that point we will be able to make the appropriate connections with certainty.

Re:  “At the moment in New Zealand the Companies Act 1993 doesn’t allow for the collection of a date of birth for directors.”  GREAT NEWS – get rid of DDS (Dodgy Director Syndrome).

I was going to be a little flippant (always a risk for a bureaucrat) and close with the line “never mind the quality – feel the price” but that would take away from the fact that we are delivering some pretty good services that while always capable of improvement are pretty impressive when compared with what they once were…

A follow up post from Kelly at 10:24am:

Kelly December 1, 2009 at 10:24 am

If government should be building web services and not web sites (as quoted above) then why isn’t the Companies Office following the lead of other registry bodies like ASIC and Companies House and providing the technology for 3rd party company registration (rather than trying to provide the process itself).

Wouldn’t greater usability, service and ease of use come about if people could use a range of software/websites on offer to form their entities rather than be forced down the funnel and use the complicated Companies Office registration service?

Wouldn’t also expanded options of registration through 3rd parties create greater compliance overall? Value added services would look to provide a more complete and compliant package (with registers etc) rather than the barebones Companies Office system which just supplies the Certificate?

Food for thought.

And, to his credit, Mr Hygate responded at 10:45am:

Justin Hygate – Group Manager Business Registries Group December 1, 2009 at 10:45 am

Simply put we do. There are many companies who provide incorporation services that connect to the Companies Office.

Our new Enterprise tool will allow even more web services to be used for both searching and registration.

I note that the cost to incorporate in both Australia and the UK is significantly higher than NZ and that the cheapest search you can perform with ASIC (where you cannot perform a substantive search directly with ASIC itself but where you must use an intermediary) is approx AUS$28.00

We think that choice is important.

We think that it is great that MED management are particpating and informing the public via the blogosphere: Well done.

The Companies Register is an important component of the credit reporting environment, and MED is performing a great role in facilitating.

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