Novopay cost us $45 million

Written By: - Date published: 7:56 am, February 19th, 2015 - 102 comments
Categories: bill english, education, Hekia parata, national, national/act government, same old national, schools - Tags: ,

Yesterday we were presented with more evidence of how incompetent National is when it comes to managing contracts.  The payroll botch-up, Novopay, that left thousands of teachers out of pocket has cost taxpayers an additional $45 million to fix.  From Stuff:

Ministry of Education secretary Peter Hughes was quizzed by MPs on the Education and Science committee today over Novopay, charter schools and special needs assistance.

Hughes conceded Novopay had “cost us dearly”.

“From the top of my mind, we have spent about $45 million additional on the system.”

While Hughes said Novopay was now doing its job, he couldn’t say with certainty that staff leave would be calculated accurately in the system.

A ministerial inquiry had been carried out when the extent of the Novopay issues had been revealed and the ministry accepted “a lot of the fault for that,” Hughes said.

“The system didn’t perform as it should have.”

The take away points are that the fiasco has cost us $45 million and the Ministry of Education has accepted “a lot of fault”.

The amount spent is huge.  The Nats will have to sell between 90 and 180 state houses to cover the financial loss.

But is MinED accepting fault appropriate?  The original report recommended that the Government go live with the project even though it noted 147 identified bugs, ten of them significant and “seven of the eight criteria associated with Confidence Point Two have been met, or are close to being met”.  So at least one criterion had not been met and obviously others were only close to being met.  You wonder why the Ministers did not say “reduce the bugs and do not come back until all of the criteria have been met”.

If I was one of the Ministers I would have sent the paper back and told the Ministry to get the bugs sorted and all the criteria met before going live.

The recommendation in the report jarrs with the content and it makes you wonder if there was pressure to put the recommendation to go live into the report.

And to recap some of the problems with the system Wikipedia has this interesting synopsis:

Many of the errors were described as ‘bizarre’. One teacher was paid for 39 days, instead of 39 hours getting thousands of dollars more than he should have. Another teacher was overpaid by $39,000. She returned the money immediately, but two months later, had not been paid since.[23] A relief teacher was paid for working at two different schools on the same day – one in Upper Hutt and the other in Auckland.[24] Ashburton College principal, Grant McMillan, said the ‘most ludicrous’ problem was when “Novopay took $40,000 directly out of the school bank account to pay a number of teachers who had never worked at the college”.[25] Another difficulty was the amount of time it was taking callers to get through to Talent2’s helpline. When Gladstone School principal Margaret Hyslop called for assistance, she found she was 1,117th in the complaints queue.

A clearer example of utter incompetence I cannot imagine.  But it is illustrative of this Government’s modus operandii that the Ministry should be blamed for the fiasco when the Ministers involved, English, Parata and Foss should be the ones to share the blame.

102 comments on “Novopay cost us $45 million”

  1. Vagabundo 1

    The main responsibility should lie with Parata, TBH. While the deal with Talent2 was signed back in 08 by Trev (IIRC) and developed while Tolley was Minister, it was Parata that removed the safeguards that were there to minimise damage should the system be faulty upon implementation. As I recall, they went along the lines of Incremental roll-out and keep the old system running parallel until full roll-out. That way, the issues would not have affected teachers to the extent that it did, and it would have been contained to a small portion of the population of educators who probably would have been affected for probably only 1 pay-round. It would have sucked for them, but compared to how things turned out, I’m sure they’d agree it would have been the far more preferable of scenarios.

    My own Novopain story is their failure to send me my payslips while I was teaching in Auckland, predominantly as a reliever, resulting in me not finding out until I found a permanent position elsewhere that roughly 1/3 of my pay was being withheld by Novopay because they decided randomly that I was neither trained nor qualified. YOU CAN’T GET A FUCKING TEACHING JOB IN NEW ZEALAND WITHOUT TRAINING AND QUALIFICATION, YOU MOUTHBREATHERS.

    • Tracey 1.1

      My son is working as a teacher aid. he wasn’t paid until 5 weeks after he started. The pay is minimum wage anyway so not getting any for 5 weeks is pretty tough.

      THEN his other job is an after school programme which is also Novopay. At the same time they stuffed his pay up and it took 4 weeks to sort…

      SkyCity (getting less than was agreed)
      Novopay (sucking up money AND leaving people without money)
      Surplus (not a a surplus and always “soon”)

      Let’s start a freaking list of deals with private enterprise that this savvy business govt has stuffed up

    • mickysavage 1.2

      Thanks Vagabond. My favourite Novopay story was the Wanaka caretaker who was in line to receive $102 million for holiday pay, put an urgent stop to it, then was not paid …

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10855442

      • dv 1.2.1

        Also bizzare.
        Obviously the software had NO checks and balances.

        • Tracey 1.2.1.1

          It wasn’t ready. They were going to do a soft roll out so they could bug and user test it in the actual environment. My understanding is that is a big and important part of rolling out such extensive software programmes.

          • Gosman 1.2.1.1.1

            Do you mean a pilot? Sometimes they aren’t necessary. In the case of Novopay it probably would have made sense to roll out to a small number of schools first. You never carry out user testing in such a manner though.

            • McFlock 1.2.1.1.1.1

              No, tracey’s describing a phased implementation, to use the IT jargon

              • Jones

                A pilot or a phased implementation would’ve been appropriate given the complexity of and risks associated with the Novopay implementation. It’s 101 stuff.

                • McFlock

                  yep.

                  Apparently they did to a wee test of the UI with some schools, but ignored the results.

                  The funny thing is that several NZ IT courses actually use as a software development case study an instance where teachers got a new computer payroll system that turned into an abject failure, with school staff not being paid properly for months. Wellington Education Board, 1993.

                  The similarities were so glaring that one lecturer wondered why the office was abuzz with a 20 year old case study for his course, smply because he hadn’t read the paper that morning 🙂

                  • ghostwhowalksnz

                    That requirement is because its not strictly only a payroll system but a combined human resources/ pay grade system.

                    Otherwise every little school could ratchet up their payments and pay grades.

                    Some of the problems described happen in various computer systems ALL THE TIME.

                    I remember a hospital costing system which had a single patient expense at $30 million. Of course in NZ only foreign patients are billed and costs are required for inter DHB payments, but this was immediately seen as something that needed fixing and the resources were there to do it right away.

          • RedBaronCV 1.2.1.1.2

            Beta testing?

            • Gosman 1.2.1.1.2.1

              Beta testing is not the same as User testing and is not often used in major application upgrade projects such as Novopay.

        • Gosman 1.2.1.2

          You make this comment based on what basis?

          From what I understand many of the issues were related to process rather than system failure. That isn’t to state there weren’t system failure as well or that the process failure wasn’t the fault of the project either.

          • dv 1.2.1.2.1

            Caretaker’s $102m pay packet
            From Micky reference

            Perhaps not NO checks and balances, but to let an hourly payment of $600,000 through is really odd.

            • Gosman 1.2.1.2.1.1

              I suspect the caretakers pay was a result of some situation that was not standard rather than everyday use of the system. You are quite right that systems generally have maximum lengths for input fields and an hourly rate would likely be one. That is unless they wanted this field to accept large amounts for whatever reason. In which case it operated exactly as designed and the fault lies with the process of inputting the hourly rate in to the system.

              • mickysavage

                SO the programme should have allowed for the possibility that someone was owed $102 million in holiday pay? Really?

                • Gosman

                  Unless it is otherwise specified then any system generally allows as much entry in to a field that a field has been configured for. If the hourly rate field was set to be in the hundreds of thousands then that is what would be acceptable.

                  However fields like these tend not to be so large. For one thing they take up a lot of space both on screen and in storage. There is no need for that unless it is required so it is highly unlikely it would have been set up to accept such a large amount.

                  What I suspect happened is there was some non standard processing that was required for this person and the process around it was not followed correctly. Something like a one off payment tends to have more flexibility than processing regular type transactions.

                  • dv

                    >> fault lies with the process of inputting the hourly rate in to the system.
                    >>Something like a one off payment tends to have more flexibility than processing regular type transaction

                    And a sensible check on the entry.

                  • tc

                    Keep spinning gossie and filling up the thread with the type of meaningless dross that shows you up for the tr*&ll you are.

                    ‘tend to be’, ‘ I suspect’, and the middle para is pure dribble and shows you know SFA about the presentation layer and data storage layers interaction via a data dictionary/DB structure.

                    No payroll system I’ve seen EVER has a value field set to be the hundreds of thousands, it’s a precise system that tends to use hrs/days so such design aspects are kicked into touch if suggested but hey you’re the expert/sarc.

                  • McFlock

                    Unless it is otherwise specified then any system generally allows as much entry in to a field that a field has been configured for

                    In general, a man is only as tall as his height…

                    What I suspect is that at the very least the user interface was fitted with inadequate data validation systems, let alone the possible stupidity of having an automated financial system that doesn’t similarly at least flag unreasonable sums for audit/authorisation. What if the caretaker had decided to take the money, and the payroll account had had the annual budget deposited into it for some idiotic reason? “Plane to Hong Kong” time…

                    • RedBaronCV

                      or even the small test at the bottom “how big is the amount of this pay run now? ” oh that’s a little big?

            • In Vino 1.2.1.2.1.2

              Ghastly English. ‘A pilot’ is singular, but you refer to it as ‘they’. Next post, the word ‘based’ is totally redundant. Then, ‘system failure’ is singular, but you relate ‘weren’t’ to it. Gosman, since language is the instrument of thought, I suggest you go back to English NCEA Level 1, then start sorting out your thinking. Or have you been drinking?

          • RedBaronCV 1.2.1.2.2

            Either system or process Gossie – still the fault of the decision making around Novapay
            Don’t bother trying to spin the line that it’s a great system made after great decisions by Steve Joyce and the rest of the Nacts but spoilt because users could not use it . That does not compute. FFS the stuff is meant to do the job specified

        • infused 1.2.1.3

          When you actually look at how many variations of pay there are for teachers and all the associated ways they can work, you will see why various things got missed.

          The funny thing is, the datacom system had the same issues. Hence the move.

          • McFlock 1.2.1.3.1

            not to that extent, or anywhere close, I bet.
            And the one would have thought that the system which was developed to replace the problems with the old system would be tested to ensure it performed better, not worse, than the old system. Before ministerial authorisation for it to go live.

  2. Tracey 2

    But Mickey, Patrick Gower is certain that Little not paying $950 debt is FAR more important to the people of NZ. $45m is NOTHING cos Gower doesn’t cover education. For the first time I thought while watching the news yesterday that Gower had made it VERY personal against Little. Nothing to do with the rights or wrongs of the debt but about being able to shove it up Little.

    I looked at other media who found the $45m important and more so than the unpaid debt. I know TV3 had an exclusive BUT really? And exclusive?

    Does anyone know if the media pay people for exclusives as a rule? That is, the unpaid chap, would he have been paid

    And yes, if it were John Key, not paying debts would be an issue too. BUT so would John Key overseeing yet another couple of Ministers who have fucked up and cost us $45m…

    Enough for tablets in decile 1 and 2 schools?
    Enough for more ESL teachers?
    Enough for a few more rural bus services?

    • Hayden 2.1

      Does anyone know if the media pay people for exclusives as a rule? That is, the unpaid chap, would he have been paid

      He got a column out of it, at least.

      • Tracey 2.1.1

        and his bill paid…

        Joyce is pretty confidant of where the media will go with stuff by poking at Little for his unpaid $940.00 debt while overseeing the pillaging of $45m from taxpayers by a ministry and private sector blunder.

        Most people would assume that the audacity to be outraged would be ridiculed… I guess TV3 owe him…

        “Millions of taxpayer dollars has been loaned to the private company that owns TV3 despite official advice warning against it.

        Documents obtained by ONE News show the government changed its mind on the $43 million deal after lobbying from the former head of MediaWorks.

        MediaWorks owns TV3 and also half of the New Zealand radio market.

        The company has gone cap in hand to the government for a $43 million loan from the public purse, and it has been granted, despite official advice warning against it. ” tv One april 2011 – coughed up by MSD, one Steven Joyce

  3. Molly 3

    I was speaking to the local principal last year, and apparently they use some “cheats” to get Novopay to produce the correct results….

    I can understand this, as their once part-time admin is now full-time because of the Novopay debacle and keeping to the script meant that all the staff were vulnerable to missed pays.

    But if this type of end-user manipulation is common, then the system when it finally does appear to be working – will not really be. And statistics will be inaccurate.

  4. Hateatea 4

    As someone who has had to wait months for payment from Novopay, I had to go and take several hundred calming breaths after reading the above. The fact that I only received last year’s holiday pay yesterday when my contract ended 16th December is just one of the many examples my small (2.4 teacher / 3 pt support staff) school went through last year alone.

    The stress on everyone is far too lightly dismissed by those from the Prime Minister down to the MoE and Novopay contractors. Let them try to live without the certainty that the pay you have earned will be available for the mortgage or rent, electricity, food etc and perhaps then they will feel as those thousands of principals, teachers and support staff have felt during this long and still ongoing debacle.

    • tc 4.1

      the stress and financial duress is part of the desired outcome by NACT as they consider teachers a target group like the poor and other unions.

  5. Lanthanide 5

    “If I was one of the Ministers I would have sent the paper back and told the Ministry to get the bugs sorted and all the criteria met before going live.”

    The thing is, it would be impossible to get all the bugs (that they knew of) fixed within the budget and time allowed.

    Of course pushing ahead with it has cost far more, in terms of stress for teachers and admin, and then having to fix all the botch up. But it’s easy to see how a “say yes and hope for the best” approach was taken, instead of a “say no and definitely get in trouble for it” alternative.

    • thatguynz 5.1

      And the former is the reason that the vast majority of IT projects fail (in terms of exceeding timeframe, budget, reducing scope or compromising quality).

      There is absolute no way that Novopay was ready for production deployment. The testing report clearly highlighted that yet it was implemented anyway – ie. the test results were sidelined. That all being said it is also architecturally flawed which is why the ongoing defect resolution has been so protracted and costly.

      tl;dr the government bought a lemon.

      • Jones 5.1.1

        Architecturally flawed… I suspect due to the attempt to automate what was a very complex, labour intensive manual system.

        • McFlock 5.1.1.1

          I used to work for another employer that used a talent2 system. It worked fine, until we had non-standard-hours staff (e.g. 24hour rosters that cycled around staff every few weeks, that sort of thing). Took bloody ages to get a system that worked for them.

          It’s the exceptions to the basic 9to5 rule that seemed to tumble it – for one period we were even telling the system what it should hear to get the right leave balances etc, while keeping manual tallies on the side. For example to take saturday night off we’d ask the supervisor, but then put it through the system as taking monday off.

    • Molly 5.2

      Yes, which is why it is a problem that instead of considering the quality of decision making, ego demands that you “do not get into trouble” and so you make the wrong decision regardless.

      Are our Ministers so fragile that they can’t handle the heat? If so, they should not be in those positions.

      • Jones 5.2.1

        It’s not just our Ministers… I believe the problem (fear of giving bad news to Ministers) is endemic in senior management throughout the public sector.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 5.3

      They should have gone live in a small region say Hawkes Bay or Otago, that way the scale of the problems could be identified.

      As the project was way overdue and the existing payroll was hands on and labour intensive, I suppose they decided to burn their bridges and jump in the lake at the same time.
      It seems that Foss, another of the flash money people, was the associate minister responsible, as he has been shunted down the ministerial list ( rather than climbing it)

  6. Draco T Bastard 6

    Novapay is probably the best example as to why we need a government IT department that develops all of the governments software and recommends the hardware. Such a department would, over time, develop the institutional knowledge needed to prevent these fuckups. It’d also go a long way to producing the necessary compatibility between government departments.

  7. greywarshark 7

    I’m biased in my opinions about government and information technology. I think gummint is prepared to spend what it takes to get rid of much of government personnel and leave it to machines, because that’s the modern thing and is thought to be cheaper, fewer employees anyway. .

    So there is a big amount of tolerance for stuff-ups like Noveopay’s. And for mucking teachers around, they are just glorified tutors and governesses for the children of the wealthy and asperashunal.

    It might be time to reread Tom Sharpes Vintage Stuff and how education can go horribly wrong but with enough sleight of hand be swept under the carpet.
    “If a little knowledge was a dangerous thing, a lot was lethal.”

    The feed at right from Polity and Rob Salmond “One third of seats for staff and students” on universities and wananga council policy had this quote from Sandra Grey.
    TEU president Sandra Grey. “Now that the government has passed law to shrink the size of university and wānanga councils,

    It reminds me of reading for background on Wisconsin, a cheese paring state (my joke for those who can accept it, Wisconsin is a major dairying state in USA). It has about the same population as NZ, and we got many of our grinding welfare program templates from there in the 1990s. I’ve put a link giving their history as it isn’t too dissimilar from ours. We might be able to learn something from their experience.
    http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/turningpoints/tp-028/?action=more_essay

    A right wing economic position in Wisconsin:
    Tom Hefty
    who was prominent in reducing welfare spending earlier, back with figures that showed Wisconsin had a way to go before getting down to the level of the meanest states. Among the targets was the the major university of the state. He said that the state cannot afford it. Thinking is passe?
    But keep on “Do not go gentle into that good night”: “Rage, rage against the dying of the light. .." Dylan Thomas had a vitalising message.

    When negative economists get their teeth in the pace is relentless. And do other voices get a listen?
    http://wtnnews.com/articles/8106/ in 2010.
    Report from 2014
    Background from 2008. http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/stories/2008/11/03/story10.html?page=all

  8. Josh 8

    Wasn’t it Trevor Millard who signed the deal with Talent2 for Novo Pay? Surely some of the blame also goes there.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 8.1

      Who told Talent2 to go live with a broken product?

      These attempts to shift the blame show what Tory scum really mean when they talk about ‘personal responsibility’.

      • Josh 8.1.1

        WoW,

        They were right saying you’d get attacked on the standard for having a different opinion! Was just pointing it out…

        As a background…at the time Trevor Millard was signing the agreement with Novo Pay Talent2 were going through financial problems, where they were even delisted from the Australian Stock Exchange. Datacom who was already running our payroll system had a tender in for the new payroll system. It came down two these two companies. Obviously Talent2 undercut Datacom as they were desperate (being delisted because of financial trouble is normally a huge red flag) however Trevor decided it was the best route, you get what you pay for I guess, excuse the pun. Then they missed deadlines etc and already cost them $650,000 in failed trails. Of course I agree they should never have gone live!

        but I’m also indicating Trevor should also take some responsibility with a botched tender process too. The contract should never have gone to them in the first place. It took Joyce to step in and sort things out.

        Also as a note; if National had suddenly pulled the plug because of trails not succeeding, imagine the backlash on this blog when it would cost an extra so many $billion to go back to Datacom

        • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1.1

          They were right saying you’d get attacked on the standard for having a different opinion!

          You weren’t attacked you moron. I suggest you might want to take up some remedial reading lessons.

          but I’m also indicating Trevor should also take some responsibility with a botched tender process too.

          Mallard possibly needs to take some responsibility but you need to prove that the process is/was botched and how.

          It took Joyce to step in and sort things out.

          The only things that’s happened since Joyce and National stepped in is that it’s cost us even more for a lemon that should have been canceled as not fit for purpose.

          • Josh 8.1.1.1.1

            “You weren’t attacked you moron. I suggest you might want to take up some remedial reading lessons.” – Well I was now.

            if accepting a tender from a company undercutting as they were failing to make profits and losing contracts in Australia is not botched, then well I need a new job.

            National stuffed up by not cancelling the contract, but that still would of cost millions when we talking multi-million dollar contract. Either in loss of earnings or in court costs. No excuse though should of been cancelled. However Joyce still sorted it out by bringing Novo-pay in house, which cost even more money. Either way can’t discredit his work, even if his party put him in that position.

            • mickysavage 8.1.1.1.1.1

              Weird Josh.

              Let me simplify this down.

              Someone signs a contract with a software company to provide super duper all improved system.

              The company does not get paid until the software works and there is a “go live” date so that the software does not start until it is working. And as a precaution any idiot would have a back up plan just in case.

              Then someone else takes over the job. They decide to not worry about the back up and they go live even though they have a report that says the software does not work.

              Then someone who does not know what they are talking about blames the person who signed the contract, which basically was ok, instead of the person who did away with the back up plan and who decided to go live.

              See how weird your comments are?

              • Josh

                For a tender in the millions it’s not that simple, there are incremental payments. If you cancel the contract there are loss of earnings payments. Cause they are in business, and they are about to lose money, they not going admit fault and end contract out of good will.

                You got two options for cancelling contract – pay loss of earnings or go to court and spend money on lawyer and court fee’s.

                National unfortunately didn’t take one of these, and instead decided to try and make it work – Bad choice in my opinion, and obviously bad choice in hindsight, isn’t hindsight a great thing.

                I don’t think we can point to one person to blame, I’m saying both parties stuffed up and need to share blame, not for one second have I said National were in the right, they exacerbated a problem that was already created.

                exacerbated means made worse 😉 big word for simple folk like me.

                • mickysavage

                  OK so 1% for Mallard and 99% for National? Seems fair. The vagueness of your language suggests that both parties are equally to blame.

                  • Josh

                    Not fair, I’m not a government employee, however working in Civil Construction, if we have a job that big we put a lot of resources into the Tender process. It’s important we have the right contractor or consultant who is going to deliver the product. Credit history, company history, relevant work history etc. is all taken into account as well as price. In the end the problem was created at Tender time, made worse at later date. Equal responsibility is fair.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Seems like National proved itself utterly incapable of managing a difficult project and a difficult provider. Even when it was clear that things were going very wrong National kept things on cruise control. Basically, if they cant govern they shouldn’t pretend.

                  • Josh

                    I guess the situation here is, they followed the advice which in hindsight was wrong. Was still there decision and they decided to go ahead, but to be fair they did get 3 separate agencies and an independent consultants advice. I have to admit I would of called this mis-use of funds on too many opinions had everything gone well. But it looks like it hasn’t been enough in this situation. How much do you think is enough advice? Did Trevor Millard get advice when undertaking the Tender process? I assume he probably did as well.

                    • Colonial Rawshark

                      Those are bullshit excuses.

                      If those agencies and consultants gave erroneous, incomplete or plainly wrong advice, responsibility should be taken and heads should roll. At the moment its just a big whitewash duck and cover exercise, and you should refrain from being party to it.

                    • Josh

                      Hm hm cool story bro.

                      We must of paid them millions if they were taking responsibility for that advice

                    • Colonial Rawshark

                      That’s it? They gave the tax payer utterly incompetent and faulty advice which cost the Crown tens of millions of dollars. But you’re willing for them to go scott free on their merry way and cash their cheques?

                      Why don’t you bugger off so we can go talk to someone who believes in professional accountability and responsibility.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  You only pay incremental payments if the project is on track. Novopay wasn’t.

            • dv 8.1.1.1.1.2

              >> National stuffed up by not cancelling the contract,

              Maybe they should rolled out and tested in a phased way instead of Parata jumping in and hope. They knew there were problems.

              And are all the problems sorted, are you sure there are no instances of wrong payments now. I seem to recall failure rates of 2-3% still.

              • Josh

                They already spent $650,000 trying to test the product, it had failed with NZPost. The time had come to either cancel or to precede on. Hindsight is great but they choose wrong. So they made the problem worse.

                Note Pricewaterhouse Coopers, the Ministry of Social Development, the Primary Industries Ministry and the New Zealand Transport Agency also advised at the time it should go ahead

                • Colonial Viper

                  Sounds like National exercised insufficient critical judgement and didn’t bother to ask the right questions.

                  • Josh

                    Sorry might be my simpleton but didn’t understand.

                    You trying to say advice from 3 separate agencies and a independent consultant is not enough? how many opinions should we be getting? how much should we be spending on these?

                    • Colonial Rawshark

                      Your simpleton mindset avoided the simplest scenario: if incorrect advice was provided, and incompetence played a role in producing or soliciting that incorrect advice, then heads should role.

                    • McFlock

                      Any normal person, when they ask “is it good to go live?” and receive the answer “six out of seven mission critical milestones are completed or close to being completed” would see that at least one essential milestone is nowhere close to being completed and would also ask “just how many have been completed?”

                      Only an incompetent manager/minister would not recognise those weasel words and sign a go-live authorisation. That’s their job. One fucking job, not just to rubberstamp a piece of paper. They’re supposed to think about this stuff. That’s why they get paid. How simple does this need to be for you to understand?

                    • Maybe they were confused about what “mission critical” means. Or, if they were postmodernists, they may have considered that “mission critical” is a socially constructed and highly relative term, which could have multiple meanings in the context of user acceptance testing. OK, no I give up – it’s incompetence.

                    • Josh

                      Were ‘mission critical’ written on the reports? Hmm. weird that Talent2 would write that on a report but I guess yea they should of been a red flag.

                      Advice is just that, Advice. In the end National took it and it was wrong, their fault for taking the advice. If PWC or the agencies were taking responsibility for that advice, the bill would of been Huge cost! in the millions.

                      Not sure why still arguing as I have agreed National is at fault, but saying Trevor Millard also has responsibility for botched tender process.

                    • McFlock

                      Severity level two (5 levels, level one most severe). ISTR mission critical was in the descriptions of severity levels.

                      what you’re missing is that advice does not mean you turn off your intellectual faculties. You look for the edges in words, you request verification or further information. Or at least you do if you want the project to work.

                      If you’re just interested in covering your arse, maybe you just sign it on the grounds that the buck stops one level below you.

                • RedBaronCV

                  Amazing how you can get an opinion that suits if you pay enough.

                  • Josh

                    Yea the independant consultant is supposed to be independent, but then I guess you would have that who is paying the bills thing. What should they do then when getting advice then?

                    • tc

                      Try not to use crowds with shit track records in such matters. 3govt departments and PWC aren’t systems experts.

                      INSIS or whatever that police systems effort was called anybody. Geez transport agency wanted $3m to connect 2 oracle databases as one measure of their competency.

                    • Colonial Rawshark

                      This is now the level of a fucking joke.

                      If beneficiaries had cost losses of $4.5M there would be prosecutions and heads would roll.

                      Because it’s your political mates involved in the loss of $45M, you are determined to cover their ass like a pair of cheap speedos

                    • RedBaronCV

                      I get the feeling that some of them are hiring their mates given the lack of a tendering process. Increases the chances of hearing what suits to about 99%

                    • Josh

                      I voted National on these elections, but have voted greens previously. I vote on policies and track record not on mates. I don’t have political mates and swing my vote to what I think is best for the country. I also reframe from swearing and derogatory comments and rather debate the issue at hand. I’m not even taking away blame from National just saying they are not alone in this saga.

                      The agencies and PWC were giving ADVICE about the contract and business decision, and providing ADVICE to advance. Talent2 were employed as the systems experts by Trevor Millard. Normally a review of their work would come when something goes wrong, as anyone else would of been competitors and had a conflict of interest.

                      Since all these refutals are ignoring the fact, or apparently the Tender process is just not important. Obviously this blog has interest in whatever Labour does is right, whatever National does is wrong. Not actually discuss situations. Thats in regard to comments attached to this, there has been maybe 1 or 2 actual discussions that was worthwhile.

            • tc 8.1.1.1.1.3

              No your doing your apologist job just fine josh. National stuffed up by not managing the deliverables, intervening early and cancelling it before go live leaving the working system in place.

              Please clarify what loss of earnings has to do with it. You write a crap system you don’t get paid, simple enough for you and if the contract rewarded talent2 for shit code then that’s on national also.

              Joyce sorted nothing out, it’s still broken. He did attempt to foist it back on Datacom who had the system it replaced but they aren’t that stupid as Parata/trolley had fubar’d it by then.

              Parata is the one who removed the due diligence and her and other Nat ministers pushed it through when the report said it was too full of bugs.

              But keep apologising for Joyce and blaming Mallard for signing a heads of agreement in 08 and having nothing to do with the actual delivery contract being in opposition and all that.

              • Josh

                I’ll choose to skim over the fluff.

                Clarification – loss of earnings would be claimed by Talent2, remembering it’s early’ish stages in the contract so Talent2 would not be admitting any fault of any problems to a system that hasn’t been implemented. You have the choice to pay out on these or go to court to fight that Talent2 hasn’t performed to the contract requirements. A lot of contracts you just take the loss earnings payment cause of the cost and hassle to go through the court process. (Why Tenders are extremely important, and why some companies loose money in variations through accepting the cheap price)

                Joyce – I assumed it must have been relatively solved after bringing the system in-house as there have been limited media reports suggesting otherwise. I could be totally wrong here, what is wrong with the system atm? where are the teachers complaining?

                What clause did she remove? When they pushed it through this was the stage where they had to decide to go ahead or go through the court/loss of earnings payment. This was where I have mentioned they made the mistake.

                I have not once apologised for anyone, but do think joyce has done a good job, doesn’t excuse National’s stuff up. But still argue they need to share blame with Trevor Millard for botched Tender process.

                • McFlock

                  Relatively solved, except for the first three payments in 2014 school year, so we’ll see how it goes about now.

                  So yes, they might have finally fixed the clusterfuck that they signed off on in the first place.

                  • Colonial Rawshark

                    So who the fuck is this guy? Some kind of professional spinner? He’s done about 50 comments on just this topic today.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      I wonder if he thinks tricksy “Millard” set a trap for the poor naive incompetent National Party and they fell right in it.

                      A cunning plan that relied on them being utterly Parata negligent.

                    • McFlock

                      if mallard set the trap, the nats renegotiated it twice. Which Josh would know if he’d been up with the issue or even read some of the links in the post.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Yep, they were certainly negligent. The plan obviously worked 😉

                    • tc

                      Yes another DP spawned diffuser and derailer assigned to TS along with others.

            • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1.1.1.4

              Well I was now.

              Nope. Having the truth pointed out to you still isn’t an attack moron. You may not like it but, as the saying goes, truth hurts.

              if accepting a tender from a company undercutting as they were failing to make profits and losing contracts in Australia is not botched, then well I need a new job.

              You haven’t proved that the government had that information or even that it was publicly available when they did their research.

              However Joyce still sorted it out by bringing Novo-pay in house,

              Which should tell you where the problem is and it was a problem started by Labour in the 1980s. That problem is contracting out government IT projects to private firms rather than having a government IT department.

              But Joyce still didn’t fix it. If he’d fixed it Talent2 would have been paying NZ millions for fucking up.

              • Josh

                Call so name calling isn’t, righto you must of done well at life.

                Being pulled from the stock exchange is public information, it was well known they were struggling financially, but they might have done a good sales job on it? In the end part of the Tender process is to find out, I’m not sure if they did or not but if they didn’t know, they didn’t do their job.

                Yes I would agree that IT should be in-house.

                So they haven’t admitted full fault then have they.

      • In Vino 8.1.2

        OAB’s question is one that you are not going to answer, Josh, are you?

        I wonder why. By the way, it is Mallard, not Millard.
        Edit – about 4 new replies have come in since I pressed the button, and a logical chain may now be impossible. Ah well…

        • Josh 8.1.2.1

          Yes I did answer later down the tread. However this ignores the fact that it would of still cost millions to cancel the contract, then reengage another firm. So it was inevitable it was going to cost money. Thats why the tender process in any business decision is so important.

          • freedom 8.1.2.1.1

            Signing off on the development of a product is a world away from signing off on the Go Live implementation of a product.

            National pressed the big green button, not Labour. A big green button that was not pressed by the way until four years after National took office.

            Four years Josh, for National … to do … something …

            instead of launching a broken system

            http://www.minedu.govt.nz/~/media/MinEdu/Files/TheMinistry/NovopayProject/TestingNovopay/GoLive/EdReportFinalRecommendationV1.pdf

            • Josh 8.1.2.1.1.1

              Yup and they spent $650,000 in testing trying over those 4years then made the bad call, interesting to note that, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, the Ministry of Social Development, the Primary Industries Ministry and the New Zealand Transport Agency all advised the government it should go ahead at the time. Hindsight is great isn’t it!

              Still stand by share blame.

              • mickysavage

                How much Josh? Sharing blame could mean 1% Mallard 99% nats which to me seems right.

                • Josh

                  Answered Above, equal share for importance of the tender process!

                  • felix

                    Yeah.

                    Say you work for a polling company and as part of your job you have to order 7 pizzas for the after work kiss-up.

                    You go to Pizza Hut. I don’t know why. Maybe you don’t know where the good pizza place is. Maybe you don’t know much about pizza. Maybe they only gave you 35 bucks.

                    Whatever. You order 7 pizzas.

                    Unfortunately your boss finds out you’ve been talking to Hager so you’re out, and I have to go pick up the pizzas.

                    But guess what? They’re not ready. “I don’t give a fuck, just give me the pizzas.”

                    “But sir, they’re not cooked yet. And only 6 are pizzas. One is a box of human shit.”

                    “GIVE ME THE FUCKING PIZZAS” I scream, and grabbing the 7 boxes I head back to the office.

                    No one at work is particularly impressed when I turn up with 6 undercooked Pizza Hut pizzas, but they get really unimpressed when it start scooping up handfuls of human shit and shoving it into their faces.

                    Anyway, once they get themselves cleaned up they’ll probably figure it’s half your fault.

                    After all it WAS your job to order the pizzas.

          • mickysavage 8.1.2.1.2

            No it would not have. Talent has admitted liability and paid compensation. Besides it would have cost less than the $45 mill it has cost us.

            • Josh 8.1.2.1.2.1

              “In response to publicity about the errors, Talent2’s chief executive, John Rawlinson, said there were “no technical problems with Novopay”. He claimed the software was based on a previous payroll system, Alesco, that Talent2 had already been using for 15 years. Alesco had been developed using Oracle database software.” – Yup sounds like it at the time…

            • infused 8.1.2.1.2.2

              lol, how did you come to that conclusion?

              • Josh

                Sorry my bad, its hard to show sarcasm over written word.

                I was doubting that they would of admitted fault at the time with the quote.

                Of course with all the issues and costs after National pushed the go button they have to admit fault now as they wouldn’t get looked at in court.

                • infused

                  I actually agree with your arguments. I was putting that one to Micky. How he comes to the conclusion it would be less than the 45m spent.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  Unbelievable.

                  I just don’t put my work out there if I’m not ready. My clients understand that. They don’t get to say, “You know what – fuck it, who cares if it isn’t finished”.

                  Yeah, yeah, big company, government contract – stupid incompetent Tory client, just take the money eh.

                  It’s all about the personal responsibility.

  9. The transition to a new computer system involving so many employees was always going to be problematic – as Exhibit A is Datacom’s delivery of teacher payroll when they started… http://www.odt.co.nz/news/national/1111/payroll-problem-plagues-schools

    However, the principle of “It might not be broke, but somebody has promised to do it cheaper so let’s believe them” seems to be a recurring theme.

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