Novopay given go ahead despite failure to meet targets

Memo says Talent 2 refused to man service desk before Christmas

The Ministry of Education sent a warning letter to payroll provider Talent2 five months before the Novopay system went live.

The letter, which was sent on April 5 2012, threatened that a “notice of material breach” would be issued on April 18 if Talent2 did not meet systems integration and end-to-end testing deadlines and remedy 10 specific defects. Talent 2 negotiated an extension of that deadline to May 31.

A memo from Education ministry CIO Leanne Gibson on June 5 to the ministers of Finance and Education records that the deadlines, known as Confidence Points 1 and 2 had not been completely met. “All criteria associated with Confidence Point 1 have been met and seven of the eight criteria associated with Confidence Point 2 have been met or are close to being met,” Gibson wrote.

The 147 software defects referred to in our earlier report are also flagged here, with a note that Talent2 “now has a proven way of rectifying defects and releasing the fixes (10 to 20 per week on average)”

Despite these shortcomings, the project was cleared for go-live in August, handling its first pay run in September.

Reasoning in favour of the go-ahead was based on the near completion of the confidence points and on the recommendation of four independent advisors: Justin Sturrock of PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Craig Soutar, CIO of the NZ Transport Authority, David Habershon, CIO of the Ministry of Social Development and Nigel Prince, deputy director-general corporate services at the Ministry of Primary Industries.

On January 15 this year, Acting CEO of the Ministry of Education, Rowena Phair, wrote to Talent2 chairman Andrew Banks, saying she was “appalled” at Talent2’s refusal to staff the Novopay service desk “in the weekend before [ ]tmas” (presumably Christmas; curiously half the word has been redacted.)

This meant, she says, that a large number of staff would not receive their holiday pay before Christmas. A direct call to Talent2 CEO John Rawlinson by Associate Education Minister Craig Foss had been needed to sort out a “solution”.

“I’m sure you will agree this is not an acceptable means of gaining service delivery,” Phair writes.

9 Comments

Trademe

1

Its like rewarding incompetence..

Oliver

2

If it weren't so tragic I'd have a good chuckle about "Confidence Points". Probably met all the SLA points that needed to be reached but everyone knew the system was otherwise bung.

Metrics like that just make vendors reach goals instead of delivering a service and system that works. The RFP process is outdated and just plain wasteful. I wish govt would revise their tendering procedures in the IT sector.

Anonymous if blank

3

Now that we've heard the titillating MoE side of the story via the OIA, it would be interesting to get a response from TalentZero. Its seems a denial of natural justice that the vendor is unable to comment due to contractual terms. Lets not forget that MoE have long been recognised as the most breathtakingly dysfunctional of all government agencies and may not have been an easy bedfellow.

Anonymous

4

The story certainly sounds one sided so far. How about all the self serving public servants in the line-up; will we be seeing their resignation letters or will they go on to waste more tax payer money in future projects?

Anonymous

5

NZ does seem to be dominated by a culture of old fogies, who continue to perpetuate a mafiosa culture, based on not what but who you know? - this is especially visable in Government IT, but is also prevelant in many areas of business / government?

Anonymous

6

Novopay has caught the headlines, but there are many other government IT failures that have cost significant sums (millions) and have been kept quiet?

Anonymous

7

CIOs without a background in application development will not be able to comprehend what is going on in complex systems and instead rely on what they are told and applying sound risk management techniques - if they can.

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Transparency?

8

The old boys club wheels turning again? Transparency and accountability - what a crok.

Anonymous

9

Too bad they didn't read 'New Zealand Cases in Information Systems' (1992 J.SHEFFIELD, MYERS, M.) , there's a brilliant case study in it which examines the failed implementation of a centralized payroll system by the New Zealand Education Department in early 90s, it has stories of teachers not getting paid on them, missing mortgage payments, bills. It used to be a textbook for first year IS papers in Uni back then. Apparently nothing was learnt.

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