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NRT: Absolute insanity

Written By: - Date published: 12:04 pm, November 16th, 2012 - 36 comments
Categories: accountability, wages - Tags: , ,

No Right Turn on Novopay and the sacking of payroll staff.

Absolute insanity

The government’s contracting out of the education payroll to Novopay has been a disaster, with hundreds of people going unpaid, often for months. The Ministry of Education’s payroll office has been working hard to try and clean up the mess its contractors had made. or at least it was – because now the government is sacking them:

The Ministry of Education is planning to cut nine jobs from its payroll unit as staff struggle to deal with the Novopay teachers’ pay debacle.

PSA national secretary Brenda Pilott said a restructuring proposal would reduce the number of positions from 23 to 14.

“It claims the staff will not be needed once Novopay is operating smoothly. The timing of this beggar’s belief,” she said.

“Everyone knows that the Novopay system has been a debacle and with the magnitude of the problems, who knows when it will be properly up and running.”

To do this now, when the new system is still not functioning, is absolute insanity. And it just makes the government look callous and utterly divorced from reality.

36 comments on “NRT: Absolute insanity”

  1. Dv 1

    Just a point.
    Are the staff they are talking about associated with the pay ‘system’ Novapay?

  2. BM 2

    Public service,once again, what a fucking joke.
    I realise this post is an attempt to make National look bad but all is does is reinforces the public perception of governmental departments as completely incompetent.

    • McFlock 2.1

      Yes, because it’s the private contractor coming in to fix the mess caused by incompetent public servants. Oh, wait, it’s Opposite Day today…

      • BM 2.1.1

        OK, not the I’ve followed this Novapay debacle particularity closely.
        But it seems to be a complete fuck up.
        There needs to be questions asked like.
        1.Why did the MOE go with Nova pay
        2.What was wrong with the previous system.
        3.Why did it cost $30 million dollars.

        My beef is not with the average public servant, but with the clowns who make the decisions.

        • Macro

          “…..but with the clowns who make the decisions”

          Oh! You mean the Minister!
          Ministers are responsible for the decisions of their departments – the buck stops there – supposedly. Oh yes were are talking about a National govt! Silly me! they are different. No accountability what-so-ever.

        • McFlock

          1. tender (almost certainly – I think that’s in the rules)
          2. probably nothing, but I expect the newer system was supposed to be cheaper and more efficient.
          3. see 1.

          As to who your beef is with, if you’d said “perception of Maori as completely incompetent”, then later on said “my beef is with some Maori who fucked up in this instance”, you’d still have shown your inherent bias for all to see.


          • One Tāne Huna

            BM is trying failing to lay the blame on the previous government, since the choice to go with Talent2 was made during their term.

            The entire four years of asleep at the wheel non-oversight of the project isn’t up for discussion.

            • BM

              So the decision was made by Labour.
              I didn’t realise that, explains a lot though.
              Surprised Labour didn’t support New Zealand business.

              • One Tāne Huna

                Bullshit. Your weasel bad faith was transparent from the start.

                What a sad joke your “personal responsibility” turns about to be: four years of right wing incompetence and you’re still bawling about the previous government. So we can add hypocrite to weasel.

              • Macro

                Oh! Too droll!

                Such apparent idiocy must be hard to maintain BM

                • BM

                  I can’t see how you can pin any blame on National.
                  Labour chose Nova pay, all blame rests with Labour

                  Nova pay must be one of those dead rats Cullen was talking about.

                  • McFlock

                    maybe the cockup happened because National fired the people who were handling Talent2 and their overworked replacements had far too many other responsibilities in addition to systems development oversight.
                    In which case it’s squarely and directly National’s fault. 

                  • felix

                    Actually BM it’s National’s fault because they’re the fucking government.

                    Doesn’t matter when the contract was tendered or who accepted it – National have been overseeing this contract for four years. (Or failing to, as it happens).

                    If the system isn’t up to scratch it’s the current government’s job to know, and to not fucking launch it until it is good enough. Or to do something else instead.

                    They failed to do so, and they are solely responsible for this failure.

          • Georgy

            No 2 – Datacom were providing payroll services and hteir system was ready to collapse after some considerable time patching up when Novopay kept delaying the start up of their system. Apparently Datacom delivered an ultimatum – the final date of their services, so the MoE had to go with the new, ready or not. And not is the big operative word. Datacom tendered but missed out.

    • Te Reo Putake 2.2

      Eh? The pay process has been outsourced to a private company which has munted it from day one and that is somehow the public service’s fault?

      • Lanthanide 2.2.1

        “that is somehow the public service’s fault?”

        Evidently they didn’t do due diligence on the company they outsourced to, or that the actual product was working as intended before rolling it out. They also had no backup plan, and didn’t appear to try a phased introduction to iron out the bugs.

        The ministry is not blameless in this.

        • McFlock

          The question, though, is why wasn’t Ministry project supervision up to scratch? 
          It would be a shame if this became a case of “fire half the staff because they’re bloat, then fire the other half because they seem incapable of handling the new workload” (actual proportions may vary from those seen here). 

        • Te Reo Putake

          Lanth, the company doing the work is Talent2. They are a leading payroll, HR and recruitment firm, primarily operating in Asia. They should know what they are doing. However, the problem is actually outsourcing. Private companies doing public service work are notoriously unreliable. Remember G4S, of Olympic games stuff up notoriety? And their parent company G4, who are equally hopeless at running prisons. Firms like C(r)apita and SERCO have an awful reputation in the UK for exactly this kind of profit driven underperformance.

          Outsourcing is the problem, not the firm chosen to undertake the work. Public services should be provided by public servants because they are cheaper, more efficient and committed to delivering for all of us, not just the shareholders.

          • ropata

            Outsourcing is the problem

            Yes TRP, the public service should follow the example of the USAF and build its own ERP system from scratch :eyeroll:

            As I see it, the State Services Commission would normally audit these kinds of projects, but probably National’s chaotic re-ordering and cuts to the public service allowed little things like “checking the software actually works” to fall thru the cracks.

            • Draco T Bastard

              Yes TRP, the public service should follow the example of the USAF and build its own ERP system from scratch :eyeroll:


              The system dates back to 2005, when Oracle won an $88.5 million software contract, securing the deal over rival SAP and other vendors.

              And that’s from you’re own link. It seems that outsourcing is still the problem.

              Oh, and probably having 200 legacy systems to replace.

        • weka

          “The ministry is not blameless in this.”
          Do you know this for a fact Lanth, or are you surmising? Is overseeing the contracting out of such services part of normal business for govt departments? Do they have adequate processes in place to manage this successfully? Are they given adequate directives and support from the Minister? What has been happening at WINZ suggests otherwise.

    • Dr Terry 2.3

      I cannot accept that this government is guilty of “absolute insanity”. Insane people would not behave in this way. Moreover, let’s not give them “insanity” as though that is an excuse for dreadful behaviour.
      What I do accept is that the government is (not looks) “callous and utterly divorced from reality” on very much more than this solitary issue.

      • KJT 2.3.1

        They are not divorced from reality at all.

        The transfer of wealth from New Zealanders to Nationals backers is proceeding nicely.

  3. KJT 3

    Private firms always do it better than the State!

    And. You need to pay millions to get good people!

    Yeah right!

    Should have asked the guy who made my business accounting software. $120. And capable of being scaled to any size firm.

    • BM 3.1

      Shame Labour didn’t go with him would have saved the taxpayer 30+ million.

      • One Tāne Huna 3.1.1

        Another wing-nut advert for post-natal abortion.

        “Personal responsibility” means it’s always someone else’s fault.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.2

        Labour signed the contract, since then it’s been in Nationals hands. It is, therefore, National who is at fault for not making sure the firm was doing it’s job and ensuring that it worked before it was rolled out.

        • BM

          Until it went live the government would have no idea if the software was up to scratch or not.

          When you take on a company to do work there’s a lot of trust involved.
          To help minimize the risk though, you do some back ground checks to make sure the company who’s doing the work is up to scratch and can deliver on what they promise.

          Did labour do those background checks, who knows.

          • Draco T Bastard

            Until it went live the government would have no idea if the software was up to scratch or not.

            And the only reason for that would be because they’re not doing their job of ensuring that these contracts return value for money.

            Did labour do those background checks, who knows.

            It would be part of the tendering process. If you really want to know though, ask. Although I suspect you’ll just continue to slag off Labour and defend National no matter what.

  4. joe90 4

    They’ve got a marvellous That, we need a That…That’s the system we need….now… if we use This, which looks something like That, and add one of Those…. and use These….we’ll end up with This….. which is cheaper than That and given a little more time will actually be as good as That….with more money we’ll be able to use Them…who’ll be able to make This as good as That…. if ….fuck….INCIS!.

    • ropata 4.1

      When a project turns into an omnishambles like this, nobody looks good.
      The client (MoE) is probably guilty of chopping and changing requirements, rushing the deployment, and going for the cheapest option.
      And people suggesting that a payroll solution for thousands of people is anything like a $120 desktop program have no idea of the technical complexity behind enterprise level software

      • AsleepWhileWalking 4.1.1

        All true.

        I don’t understand why they didn’t use something like SmartPayroll unless they just couldn’t handle the numbers (??)

        • ropata

          I don’t know but for $30 mill you could probably have got a decent SAP implementation in a year or so. (SAP is expensive and forces painful process changes, but also the industry standard)

  5. irascible 5

    If I recall the process re the Novopay decision – the tender was called during the KeY regime with all decisions to go with the program and provider signed off by Foss. This is a typical KeY omnishambles and remains with him and his minions.

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