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Decision to sign Novopay contract to come under scrutiny

Published: 1:42PM Thursday January 31, 2013 Source: ONE News

A Ministerial inquiry into troubled payroll system Novopay will look into why Government officials gave it the go ahead despite known problems.

Education Minister Hekia Parata and others signed a contract with Novopay provider Talent2 to implement the system in September last year, even though she and other Government officials knew there were problems with the system.

"All the advice that we had at the time made it clear that we should proceed. I think hindsight is a wonderful thing," said Parata.

Labour's acting education spokesperson Chris Hipkins said the system clearly was not ready.

"They didn't ask fundamental questions," he said.

Stephen Joyce told a media conference this afternoon that it is clear the issues with Novopay are complex and that there is no quick fix.

Joyce said the ongoing issues with Novopay are "unacceptable".

"Problems will continue for some time," said Joyce, who was given the task of tackling the Novopay issue in Prime Minister John Key's latest Cabinet reshuffle.

And he admitted he has been talking to the previous provider Datacom to set up a contingency plan, although the minister was quick to stress that would be a last resort.

In the interim more staff are being put into the call centre which will also extend its opening hours.

Joyce said Novopay is one of the largest payroll systems in Australasia and covers approximately 110,000 people and 15 separate collective agreements.

"Next week's pay round covers the beginning of the school year and the Ministry of Education and Talent2 are expecting further issues, particularly with the start of a new secondary school teachers' collective agreement," he said.

New measures include:

A technical audit by Murray Jack of Deloitte of the stability of the Novopay system and the data contained in it.

A new Novopay Remediation Plan to accelerate software stabilisation, monitoring and enhancements and improve customer service

More resources, which the Government will initially provide on a contingency basis while reserving its contractual position with Talent2.

Active sector re-engagement led by the Ministry of Education

Use of the Ministry's regional network to support schools, document their feedback and provide them with more information and training

Revitalise a reference group to ensure ongoing sector engagement and input into system enhancements.

Investigation of a revised Contingency Plan

Led by the acting Secretary of Education who has commenced dialogue with previous supplier, Datacom.

A Ministerial Inquiry to cover all aspects of the teacher payroll system from outset to present day.