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Novopay 'needs to be fundamentally redesigned'

Published: 4:46PM Monday February 04, 2013 Source: ONE News

Documents leaked to ONE News show Novopay needs to be fundamentally redesigned.
However, it is a message so far ignored as schools and their staff face one of the most painful pay cycles yet.

The pay system has consistently under-performed since it went live last August, even though all parties involved knew it was defective.

As a result thousands of teachers have been underpaid, overpaid or not paid at all, with consequences affecting tax returns, child support payments, ACC and superannuation.
With so many teachers and school staff back this week schools have been told to do a practice run with Novopay.

But at Clyde Quay School in Wellington it has not helped.

"I found four errors in ours, which I've advised Novopay of and the final report has come out today and I've just checked it and none of those errors have been corrected," the school's office manager, Helen Burnet said.

She said it is extremely frustrating.

Documents released to ONE News show the Ministry recommends there needs to be a "fundamental redesign" of the Novopay system.

It also says Talent 2, which operates Novopay, is "struggling to maintain the pace" of problem solving.

"Fundamentally Novopay is not delivering, if it is not going to deliver it is time to ditch it and move to a system that will work," the document said.

When asked whether Novopay is worth saving, the minister in charge of Novopay, Steven Joyce said: "I think we need some fundamental change there is no doubt about that."

"The next steps are going to be very expensive and challenging."


The inquiry into the flawed Novopay system is expected to cost half a million dollars.

Joyce today revealed the Ministerial Inquiry, which is one of five measures the Government announced last week to address the issues surrounding Novopay, will be undertaken by former Chief Executive of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Sir Maarten Wevers and Chairman of Deloitte New Zealand Murray Jack.

Joyce said Sir Maarten is a highly experienced and well respected former member of the public service, which make him an ideal person to be involved in this inquiry.

He said Jack has extensive experience in reviewing and advising on issues relating to major information technology systems, including the review of security breaches in the Ministry of Social Development's self-service kiosks. 

"The Ministerial Inquiry will be a comprehensive fact-finding investigation into all aspects of the Novopay project from the outset to the present day," he said.
"My expectation is the Ministerial Inquiry will report by the end of May following the completion of the technical review within the next three to four weeks."

Costs for the Ministerial Inquiry are estimated to be around $500,000 and will be met from Ministry of Education's baselines.

"It is important that lessons are learned from the issues with Novopay," said Joyce.

"Following the Ministerial Inquiry I will ask the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment to work with Treasury, the State Services Commission and the Government Chief Information Officer to provide Cabinet with advice about contracting arrangements in the wider State Sector."

Besides the Ministerial Inquiry and the Technical Review, other measures the Government is putting in place to address the issues with Novopay include a new Remediation Plan, which will accelerate software stabilisation, monitoring, enhancements and improved customer service; a Ministry of Education re-engagement plan with schools; and investigating a revised Contingency Plan with the previous payroll supplier.
"While we are putting in place new measures to address the issues with Novopay, the reality is those issues remain very complex and will take some time to resolve," said Joyce.

"I appreciate how frustrating and time consuming this is for school administrators, principals, teachers and other staff. The Government is doing everything it can to resolve the issues as quickly as possible."

Joyce was tasked with the inquiry by Prime Minister John Key.

Website glitch

The leaked documents also show there has been a website glitch which means a lot of the information needs to be loaded manually. That's a lot more time consuming for schools.

A notice came up on the Novopay website asking people to be patient.

Schools say it's been an ongoing problem.

"I just put the phone on speaker phone and carry on doing other things and it was forty three minutes I'd been waiting" Burnet said.