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.

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