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Novopay stabilising a year on but more work to do

Hon Steven Joyce
Minister Responsible for Novopay

19 August 2013

Novopay stabilising a year on but more work to do

This week marks a year since the school payroll system Novopay went live and while significant progress has been made, challenges still remain in completing the remediation and stabilisation of the system, Minister Responsible for Novopay Steven Joyce says.

Novopay went live on 20 August 2012 allowing school administrators to log on to the system online. The first pay run under the system was 5 September 2012.

“For the first six months in particular, multiple issues occurred with Novopay. These had a significant impact on teachers, administrators, school staff, and boards of trustees,” Mr Joyce says.

“As the Ministerial Inquiry report noted, all state and state-integrated schools in the country have been affected in some way and there are substantial lessons to be learned by not only the Ministry of Education but also the wider public sector on implementing major information technology projects.

“Cabinet agreed to the $5 million Remediation Plan in February this year, and since then progress has been made in resolving issues particularly the processing of pay, the fixing of bugs, and clearing the backlog of outstanding pay instructions.

Alongside the Ministerial Inquiry and Remediation Plan, the Government put in an additional $6 million to support schools; a Technical Review to assess the stability of the Novopay system; and established a dedicated business unit in the Education Ministry to co-ordinate the Remediation Plan and backlog clearance.

“In Pay Period 23 at the start of the school year in February, 2.2 per cent of staff notified that they had been underpaid, overpaid or not paid. Now pay periods are stable and performing as expected with10 out of the last 11 pay periods being below the 0.5 per cent steady state error level identified by the Novopay Technical Review,” Mr Joyce says.

“Bug clearance has also been a priority. At the start of remediation there were 613 known bugs of which 60 were classified as Category Two or very serious. The Technical Review identified that we should have fewer than 10 Category Two bugs by the end of June and we have achieved that with six Category Two remaining out of a total of around 325 bugs.

“Since the establishment of the Backlog Clearance Unit in March, the backlog of 12,000 pay instructions has been cleared and the focus is now on resolving all overpayments and leave.

“Outstanding overpayments have fallen from around 15,000 to 6300 and the aim is to clear all those, plus the 5000 outstanding leave balance issues, as well as tax issues relating to back pay, by the end of September.

Mr Joyce says while improvements have been made there are still a number of significant challenges that remain – including the introduction of a software system upgrade at the beginning of next month to correct remaining tax issues, and the upcoming end of year-start of year process.

“The system upgrade to correct outstanding tax issues is the first software upgrade since Novopay went live, and it is being closely monitored by the office of the Government Chief Information Officer,” Mr Joyce says.

“There is also a lot of work being done currently by the Ministry and Talent2 to ensure the end of year-start of year process, which caused substantial issues in December last year and January and February this year, runs smoothly.

“This includes resolving current leave and tax issues; clearing bugs that may affect performance; having back up contingencies in place; and in October and November, providing increased training for school payroll administrators.

“To better support schools, the Education Ministry has been establishing a regional support network of 80 payroll specialists and nine payroll advisors.

“Longer term the big challenge for the Ministry and the school sector will be to work closely together to put in place a less complex service delivery model for school pay as recommended by the Ministerial Inquiry.

“Our focus must be on ensuring the $4.4 billion a year school pay roll system which pays around 90,000 people a fortnight is sustainable and that the problems seen with both Novopay and with payroll implementation in 1996 are not repeated for a third time in the future.

“I acknowledge it has been a challenging and distracting year for the education sector due to the problems with Novopay and I thank all those who have been affected for their on-going patience.”


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