The Novopay papers

Stuff reports:

provider Talent2 were unwilling to staff a call centre for stricken teachers in the week before Christmas, documents show.

Then-Associate Education Minister Craig Foss had to call chief executive John Rawlinson to intervene.

Education Ministry acting chief executive Rowena Phair wrote to Talent 2 board chair Andrew Banks last month to say she was “appalled” and it was “unacceptable.”

“The impact of this decision would have been that a large number [of] schools’ staff would not receive their holiday pay prior to Christmas.”

It is obvious there were great tensions between the Ministry and Novopay for a considerable period of time. The client and the supplier were blaming each other. The ministerial inquiry announced by Joyce will no doubt shed some light on blame – once the current situation is resolved.

Finance Minister Bill English, Education Minister Hekia Parata and Associate Education Minister Craig Foss signed off the project in June last year despite advice there were 147 “software defects”.

The number of defects is not actually significant, especially in a $100m contract. What is more important is the nature of those defects.

In June last year, a report to English, Parata and Foss, outlined 147 bugs in the system. There were no problems at the most serious level, but 10 at the next level and 105 at “level 3”.

So no show-stoppers had been identified?

So why did the Government proceed?

Four independent advisers – from Pricewaterhouse Coopers, the Social Development Ministry, the Primary Industries Ministry and the New Zealand Transport Agency – gave the system the green light.

“Talent2 now has a proven way of rectifying defects and releasing the fixes,” the Education Ministry report said.

The ministers allowed the project to go ahead in August.

I’ll be very interested to see the PWC advice especially. There could be some culpability around that advice, if it was flawed.

With the benefit of hindsight, a regional pilot should have been insisted upon before rolling out nationwide. The inquiry will have to look into that also of course.

And one question for those with memories. Who was the ministerial advisor of the Education Minister who developed the original contract, and what role does he have today?

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