Another Government payroll bungle

So, another Government Ministry is having trouble with the human resource computer systems being used to pay their staff. In reflecting on this I seem to recall a certain Mr Steven Joyce being wheeled in by a panicky Ministry of Education not so many years ago to fix problems with an errant system called Novapay.

Novapay was a system designed by Talent2 which was rolled out to high school and primary schools as a new software system for paying teachers. It was a disaster. It took two years for the mistakes to be fixed, and only were in the 2014 election year, when the Government announced it would take over running Novapay under a Government entity. That was nearly 20 months ago.

Granted 2016 is still a year away from election year 2017, a Government that has a flag fiasco, growing unrest over the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, a sick dairy industry and – most troubling – Opposition parties finally starting to show some life does not need a new problem with payroll technology. And so, it is surprising on one hand for a Government that seems to be like a duck with water running off its back, that the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment is keeping quiet on who supplied the payroll system.

I always have a stock idea that I like to roll out in situations like this: if the Ministry in charge will not be honest about who supplied them the system, either come clean or have your most senior staff subject to it, including the Minister in charge. In the interim, perhaps it might not be such a bad idea to do an Official Information Act request on the issue. The Minister has 20 working days from receipt of the request to respond and must do so unless such grounds as trade secrets or commercial confidentiality are likely to be breached.

Novapay caused significant and quite drawn out consequences for individual teachers whose pay was affected. Some could not pay their bills on time, or had trouble putting food on the table and had to ask for assistance from the bank. Some could not fund important items for their children. Many suffered significant stress and although it has not been widely mentioned, at least a few would have had short term health problems related to the stress. All because an inept system took nearly two years to be fixed by the Government.

I wonder how long the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment will play Mum on this?


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