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Minister admits coercing Olympics app developer into cutting costs

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"I have a strong determination to eliminate wasteful spending as a person entrusted with taxpayers' money.

Digitalization minister Takuya Hirai admitted Friday he instructed officials to coerce the developer of a smartphone app … into cutting costs by threatening to withhold future government contracts.

Excellent! This is the type of fellow we need as a government leader! (And I'm not being facetious!)

-8 ( +7 / -15 )

“Hirai said the government will launch the app later this month.”

well, if it works half as well as other Japanese developed apps it’ll... hmmm... what’s half of not at all?

14 ( +15 / -1 )

So if the app fails to work as intended (as some of the other app projects the government has used) NEC has now an excuse and the government a clear target to make responsible for the whole thing?

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Can't wait to see the APP! I can't wait to see the source code and point out all the mistakes that were made. This will be a fun job!

7 ( +11 / -4 )

Naturally, he also returned half his salary to show that he was sincere about saving taxpayers' money.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

A GPS tracking app for only $34 million? That's a bargain. There are only dozens of free apps already.

21 ( +21 / -0 )

Given the overblown costs and scandalous under-delivery of most government IT contracts (not only in Japan), I'm tempted to be on the minister's side here.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

And so Hirai will probably be "suggested" to give the "obligatory" bow to apologize, and then be reshuffled, not fired from his post. Not much remorse here. That is a real expensive app, when other similar apps are free.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

had been halved to 3.8 billion yen ($34.7 million) from the originally estimated 7.32 billion yen by paring down functions following a decision to bar spectators from abroad.

Let those numbers sink in.

They could have used an available API, the Google API for Exposure Notifications. It's used by a lot of countries, it saves time, work and money and most importantly it's tested, functional and has a team of experienced developers (Google and Apple) behind it. Why our government hasn't used it is not entirely clear to me. Instead, they decided to reinvent the wheel.

The result will be an app with an absolutely terrible GUI (like most apps, see Osaifu-keitai, PayPay, Line,......) which looks like from the 1990s or early 2000s, with as many banners and animated nonsense on the main page as possible. It will be cluttered, and only half functional. And if they release code like that I don't believe, it will be a joy to behold for sure. There are three ways of doing things - easy way, complicated way and the Japanese way.

21 ( +21 / -0 )

Anyone want to bet the "company" that was tasked with this "APP" has connections to Suga, and Dentsu? Remember the COVID19 trace app the Gov't paid millions to have made, and it 1. Never worked, 2. Completely dissappeared from the App stores...someone got rich off that one and never delivered a finished product.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Rich IOC should have developed a core app decades ago on which countries would just add a graphical layer and some country specific content.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

¥7.8 billion down to 3.8 billion!!! My daughter's thesis for her AI master's included an App that is way more powerful and complicated 3 university students created it with GPS tracking and far more complicated features and no one would pay billions of yen for it.

Why do governments regardless of the country always seems to pay ten times more for something than private industry would.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Is there no end to the comedy?

9 ( +9 / -0 )

The only ‘surprises’ about the (alleged) ‘rampant IOCLDPJOC graft’ is that they are being exposed before the Games are even opened!

*- @Antiquesavings 4:50pm:** “Why do governments, regardless of country, always seems to pay 10 times more for something than private industry would.” -*

A form of ‘legalized’ money laundering, perhaps?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Why do governments regardless of the country always seems to pay ten times more for something than private industry would.

5% goes to whoever does the actual work, 95% to all the "middlemen" in between (of course that includes the politicians and their cronies who make these decisions).

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Prices of contracts are... agreed on by two sides rationally...,

What? There should have been a public tender for multiple contractors, not one, with the govt choosing the one (from a field of several) offering the best product at the best price. At least, that's how developed countries do procurement.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

@Robert Cikki

This is so true. Diabolical design for apps in Japan (and China for that matter).

Reminds me of a Japanese city. ごちゃごちゃ。Kind of higgledy-piggledy. Sorry, no other way to describe it. Seems the more chaotic things are the better.

Yeah, why not just use an established API? But no, just complicate it as much as possible. Yeah, seeing the code would be something else.

And at first I read 3.7 million, but 37???? And that's down from more than double what NEC originally wanted??? Time to get into app development of the Japanese government.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

A GPS tracking app for only $34 million? That's a bargain. There are only dozens of free apps already.

Yeah...perhaps...but are all those free app developers nephews or otherwise connected to LDP politicians? If not , sorry, those apps are not up to standard.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The app ... will not be equipped with some earlier planned functions such as recognizing visitors' faces and tracing their locations using a global positioning system.

So the app WON’T have GPS location monitoring? Isn’t that the whole point of it???

I thought the plan was for the athletes to have their location monitored by a phone app. That plan has already been criticized because they can just leave their phones in their rooms and go out, but if the GPS function is out, does that mean there will be NO location tracing?

If I’m misunderstanding something, I hope someone can correct me!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Wasteful spending???!!! The entire Olympics is wasteful spending!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

If they are serious about tracking athletes movements, it has to be a device that is always on the athlete 24/7 and not something that can be taken off.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"Mr. Hirai's personality is called into question. If we tolerate coercion, it will spread in society and among businesses," he said.

They did it to Toshiba shareholders, too. So no, it will not spread. It's already the norm in Japan.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Any tax payer in Japan should be praising him, most government contracts across the world are a bloated over priced rip off.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

""After the games, the government plans to revamp the app in a bid to make it usable for foreign visitors to monitor their health.""

Scary, and Evil,

This is one step closer to what many civil liberty advocates warned about at the start of the pandemic, this app will probably be used to track all citizens, Just remember what Mr. Snowden once said, "" if you own a smart phone, the NSA and similar agencies know every move you make"" and we are moving closer and closer to that point.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

An app costs 34 million dollars to make, I would think 340,000 dollars would be too expensive... I could have developed the app for 50K myself.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I thought the plan was for the athletes to have their location monitored by a phone app. That plan has already been criticized because they can just leave their phones in their rooms and go out, but if the GPS function is out, does that mean there will be NO location tracing?

If I’m misunderstanding something, I hope someone can correct me!

That was lip service to the Japanese following a poll conducted with 65 percent of the respondent saying covid measures for foreigners arriving for the olympic wasn't enough.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well the minister of mlhw as well as Suga lied.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I would recommend apples find my function on iphone. Its free. You could sell iphones to those guests that do not have one and gain income from that. Everyone adds the same master friend, and they can follow everyone.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Hirai said the cost of developing and operating the app had been halved to 3.8 billion yen ($34.7 million) from the originally estimated 7.32 billion yen by paring down functions following a decision to bar spectators from abroad.

WOW ! That is really a lot !

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What? There should have been a public tender for multiple contractors, not one, with the govt choosing the one (from a field of several) offering the best product at the best price. At least, that's how developed countries do procurement

Well if they had taken that route, than foreign contractors would have jumped into the fray and if the selection was solely based on best product and price, would have got the contract, an Indian IT contractor would have done this for 5M, probably less.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

34 million dollars!!!

Flabbergasted tbh...!

Pure wastefulness on a grandiose scale!!!

Disgusting!!!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

which looks like from the 1990s or early 2000s, with as many banners and animated nonsense on the main page as possible.

Yes! We need to go back to more dancing bunnies, microscopic font and whirling thingamabobs. Let's get together and make one for only $27 million?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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