Funds to fix Novopay do little to restore confidence

Steven Joyce
Steven Joyce
Despite the Government agreeing to inject $5 million into fixing Novopay, Otago principals say the fact remains that 98% of schools in New Zealand have little or no confidence in the beleaguered payroll system.

Minister in charge of Novopay Steven Joyce announced yesterday Cabinet would put aside $5 million under the remediation plan for Novopay which would cover work on fixing bugs and boosting the number of call centre and data processing staff.

''The final responsibility for the remediation costs - whether Talent2, the Ministry of Education, or other parties - will be determined later, and the ministry continues to reserve its contractual position,'' Mr Joyce said.

Otago Secondary Principals' Association president Brent Russell said it was pleasing to see the Government was now fully committed to resolving the debacle.

However, despite the considerable resources that the Government was ''throwing'' at Novopay, the fact remained ''98%'' of schools in New Zealand had little or no confidence in the system.

''We appreciate that there is no quick fix but the prospect of another 12-24 months of pain is unpalatable.

''It's not just about the financial cost but the human cost as well.

''Schools are still waiting to be compensated for the extra hours spent by payroll officers across the sector.

''While the goodwill and commitment demonstrated by our payroll officers has been simply outstanding, the same cannot be said for the service received.''

Mr Russell said it was essential the Government continued to work with Datacom to ensure a contingency plan was in place.

Otago Primary Principals' Association president Whetu Cormick said the $5 million tagged to fix the bugs was money that should be spent on pupils. He said principals were not happy because they had not been given any information yet about how or when schools were going to be reimbursed for the estimated $16 million they were now out of pocket due to the debacle.

''There is now an emotional crisis occurring in many schools as they deal with incorrect staff payments and, frankly, we've had enough.''

Yesterday, Mr Joyce also released the terms of reference for the technical review and the draft terms of reference for the ministerial inquiry.

''Both of these inquiries are a critical part of the remediation process. In particular, the technical review will be used to determine the final path forward in terms of restoring the pay system.''

He expected to hear the results of the technical review by February 28 and the ministerial inquiry by the end of May.

The difficulties with Novopay were ''fully expected'' to continue in pay period 24 next week.

''A concerted effort is being made to catch-up on some of the backlog of issues, with the ministry setting up an additional data processing centre of 30 to 40 additional people working yesterday, last night and today - alongside Talent2's call centre to process additional transactions.

''In addition, this morning [yesterday] I authorised the ministry to send formal notices to Talent2 of material breaches of contract. As well as that, the ministry continues to formally notify Talent2 of breaches of key performance indicators.''

Mr Joyce said he had met Datacom staff to talk about a contingency plan.

- john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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