Deja vu

March 26th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The ODT in February 2008:

Principals around the country are criticising the Ministry of Education after major payroll errors, which have created a bureaucratic nightmare for many schools.

is contracted by the Ministry of Education to provide payroll services to more than 80,000 New Zealand teachers. The latest payroll round – the first of the school term – was filled with errors, New Zealand Principals Federation president and Balclutha Primary School principal Paddy Ford said.

‘‘A number of schools have not received any pay, and many support staff have been paid the incorrect amounts.

Staff who are on leave have incorrectly received full pay, changes that were sent to Datacom in November have not been actioned, and staff are being forced to fill forms out twice with exactly the same information.” …

Mr Ford said: ‘‘Schools deserve better. It’s a nightmare. We are dealing with unnecessary bureaucracy and huge numbers of errors.

Payroll systems have changed for the worse and we need to have immediate action from the ministry, directing their payroll service providers to shape up or ship out.”

Ministry of Education Schooling Group resourcing senior manager Kevin Wilson said 99% of school employees had been paid correctly at the start of the 2008 school year.

if you changed the dates and the names you would swear that is a story from February 2013, not February 2008!

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22 Responses to “Deja vu”

  1. kowtow (7,978 comments) says:

    Methinks it’s time for the Ministry to reimpose exams .

    Then watch the Principals squirm while 25-30% of students fail them.

    And what about all the illiteates these moaning “educators” are setting on the public? That’s the failure we should be talking about.

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  2. Viking2 (11,286 comments) says:

    Funny really. The best IT system the Govt. seems to own is the one at IRD.
    It did used to be the worst but they seem to have managed to improve it for current use. Mind you they now want a billion to build a new one. Justified to some extent as the old one does have limits.

    as for the teachers. They deserve to be paid properly as does any employee.
    Seems to me their complete outfit needs a revamp from top to bottom. No reason at all for not bulk funding and the schools using a private provider that works. Smartpayroll is good and cheap.

    Of course the old Telecom Motto is well ingrained in the teaching and Govt. positions here.
    Confusion Marketing.
    I see that there is apparently about 10,000 wage permutations. What a disaster in the making as we now know.
    time that system was broken down into smaller parts.
    How did Telecom rip us off. Confusion. What does the teaching apparatus do, create confusion.

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  3. burt (8,048 comments) says:

    February 2008… We had a Labour government and the unions wouldn’t have wanted to rock the boat… You know how it works… The unions and their affiliation with the Labour party is more important than students and learning.

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  4. Kea (11,878 comments) says:

    burt, during the terrible years of Clark, the unions did little except promote labour policy. This was during a time of economic prosperity and a surplus. As soon as National came in, the money all spent (on Labours election bribes), they wanted to play hard-ball.

    The unions assisted Clark in making the gap between the haves & have nots, the biggest in our history.

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  5. Ross12 (1,292 comments) says:

    Well done to whoever dragged that out of the archives. Needs to be spread far and wide. A special hand delivered copy to the head of the PPTA and NZEI would be a good start.

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  6. PaulL (5,986 comments) says:

    @Viking: it’s the way of things in IT systems. I worked on the original IRD system back in the day (I was very junior). It’s a good system, but well past it’s use by date. It was disliked intensely when it was installed, people have grown familiar with it. The main reason people don’t complain about it too much is that it hasn’t been replaced for so long.

    I’ve worked at a couple of sites where I’ve replaced systems that I put in many years earlier. It’s kind of amusing hearing people speak so favourably about a system that you clearly recall them all hating with a vengeance when we put it in. And even more amusing when they give all the same reasons for hating the new one as they gave 10 years back for hating the old one….

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  7. somewhatthoughtful (457 comments) says:

    Payroll is not an easy IT problem to solve, it helps if you start solving it with skill and intelligence though, not novopay.

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  8. PaulL (5,986 comments) says:

    You know that old story about how the Americans have the best fighter jets in the world? Built out of the cheapest bolts that you can buy that meet the minimum quality standard, the cheapest nuts you can buy that meet the minimum quality standard….

    Government procurement gets results like this. They tend to want to buy the cheapest implementation they can get that meets their minimum criteria (which are usually written in a way that any competent IT person could drive a truck through). Unfortunately if you do a procurement in any other way, people get their knickers in a knot about how it had to be open and competitive.

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  9. BeaB (2,085 comments) says:

    Bring back salary bulkfunding.

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  10. Liberty (252 comments) says:

    Wasn’t Hipkins advising Mallard at that Time?

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  11. scrubone (3,090 comments) says:

    Big systems make small errors large ones.

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  12. Rightandleft (656 comments) says:

    PPTA is not affiliated with the Labour Party. In fact it was during those Clark years that the PPTA had its longest industrial action period since the bulkfunding battles. There was 18 months of continuous industrial action againt Labour, while Mallard was Minister of Education. It only ended when an independent commission was brought in and backed the unions claims over the government.

    The teachers’ payroll system is actually quite straightforward thanks to the collective agreements in place. The bulk of the errors have to do with day relievers, short-term relievers, part-time staff and the many support staff not under union collective agreements. For 98% of full-time secondary teachers there are less than 10 possible pay grades and more than half are on the same step, the top of the scale. The biggest confusion amongst these come from the performance pay part of the system, management units, which principals dole out in a bulk-funded manner. Imagine if there was full performance pay across the board, how difficult would the system become then?

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  13. Mark (1,436 comments) says:

    To be realistic DPF the Datacom issues were not even close to the fuck up that Novopay has been. I am now interested interested to hear the truth about the procurement process for the Novopay system. There is a bunch of speculation as to whether there was a proper tender process, whether Datacom were given the opportunity to compete. This may all be crap but given the absolute shambles that this has been the government will need to come clean at some point.

    Like the latest tui add. Novapaid – Yeah right :)

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  14. Ross12 (1,292 comments) says:

    If you are correct Rightandleft about the bulk of the system being straightforward because of the set step wise pay system for teachers, then one solution would be separate off the relievers , support staff etc into an entirely diifferent payroll system.
    That is isolate those people with variable or different pays and break a big complicated system into two –one being quite straight forward and the other ( I assume smaller in number of people ) more complex but more manageable.

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  15. burt (8,048 comments) says:

    Rightandleft

    Imagine if there was full performance pay across the board, how difficult would the system become then?

    Or, imagine if the payrol was based on each employee having an agreed pay rate rather than all starting with the same rate but having 1,000 variables to try and squeeze individual pay from a one size fits all system….

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  16. burt (8,048 comments) says:

    Ross12

    I though the errors were effecting the bulk of teachers – so this one size fits all thing – it’s a myth eh.

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  17. Grendel (974 comments) says:

    not sure where rightandleft got their info but as someone who did teachers payroll from teh start of Datacoms tenure, they are a bit wrong.

    bulk funding made no difference at all. i had bulkfunded and normal funded schools in my allotment and the only difference was whether i coded a reliever to the TS fund or the BG fund, ie it was a different code in part of the line entry.

    all support staff were on collective contracts in my schools.

    management units were also not a big deal, bar Te Kuiti highschool who would hand out 23% to one teacher, 34 to another etc, and then in 6 week blocks, due to extra classes they were taking. other than that, once it was added to a teacher you could forget it. the school simply allots someone 1, 2 or 3 units, tells us and we added it to their income. not hard at all.

    parttimers working regular hours, no hassle at all. once they were set up, you again ignored them.

    where the work was other than new staff and existing changes was relievers and sickleave. it took time due to physical salary cards but it was straightforward.

    then you had end of each term if people were leaving and the support staff not paid through the holidays and the end of each school year when you paid off almost all the support staff and leaving teachers and the start of the school year when you put them back on.

    the collective contracts did not make things easier. ignoring all the grandparented clauses and weird allowances, you have primary, secondary, area, principals and deputy/assistant principals on different contracts (and i was the only one with all 3 types of schools in my group), cleaners and caretakers had their own collective contract (did you know that caretakers get Easter tuesdays as a stat day?) and other support staff had their own collective with from memory at least 5 different ways to calculate pay.

    i am surprised the unions were still bitching in 2008 as it had been 12 years at that point, but look back to Feb 1997 and i bet you will find some doozies. threats of legal action, we had security guards on the door. in fact the whole novopay thing has been weird Dejavu for someone who lived through it all back in 1996.

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  18. HB (298 comments) says:

    “if you changed the dates and the names you would swear that is a story from February 2013, not February 2008″

    oh, that’s all right then.
    You forgot to mention the $millions taxpayers have spent since though.

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  19. Jinky (181 comments) says:

    So you are saying teachers haven’t been paid properly for over 5 years??!! And people wonder why they are so strongly unionised! How long would anyone on here at Kiwiblog work for an employer who didn’t pay properly?

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  20. Rightandleft (656 comments) says:

    Grendel,

    None of that is relevant because it was all done under the Datacom system, which was nowhere near as bad as Novopay. Yes there were errors around holiday time and some start-up issues, but the system wasn’t fatally flawed the way Novopay seems to be. I have a friend who is a permanent full-time teacher but who wasn’t paid at all for 6 months. Why? Because this teacher had a management unit they split with another teacher, each having it for half a year. When she lost the management unit her pay should have dropped slightly. Instead Novopay stopped paying her at all. Many of the teachers affected are middle and senior managers with management units. Datacom could handle that stuff, Novopay can’t. Also I didn’t say bulk-funding would make the system worse, I said performance pay across the board. That would create a system with even more pay grades and even more regular changes to those grades than the current one.

    Now as for the prevalence of the problem. Joyce regularly cites 1-2% error rates that he gets from the PWC regular review of Novopay errors. The problem is that we know with certainty that 1/3 of teachers with pay errors are not reporting them to their schools and that as much as half of all schools are not passing on their info to Novopay. PPTA internal surveying and investigations show that around 35% of members are affected by Novopay errors. Even if the surveys are compromised by self-selection bias, the number involved mean we still know more than 20% of all secondary teachers are involved, not 1-2%.

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  21. kiwigunner (226 comments) says:

    Another stupid post by DF. So there were problems with the previous payroll provider but they were fixed to the point that schools were happy with the service. Then Parata, Foss and English decide to introduce a new system that is worse in every way than the previous one before the fixes. This makes everything ok? Bloody stupid thinking.

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  22. PaulL (5,986 comments) says:

    @kiwigunner, I think you’ll find Labour decided to introduce a new system.

    Parata, Foss and English decided to declare it finished and implement.

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