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Auditor-general joins Novopay watch

The government’s Mr Fix-it Steven Joyce may have the troubled Novopay payroll system in his sights, but so too does the Auditor-General.

Lyn Provost has confirmed she is monitoring the problems caused by the education ministry’s pay system.

Prime Minister John Key made it clear on Tuesday he needs the Novopay system sorted out and appointed economic development minister Steven Joyce to resolve the problems.

The system, responsible for paying 85,000 teaching staff fortnightly, was developed by Australian company Talent2 and introduced last September.

But since its introduction it has been plagued with problems, including paying the wrong salaries to the wrong people or missing payments all together.

Ms Provost says her priorities regarding Novopay are completing an annual audit work to ensure schools are able to sign off their payroll reports and their annual financial statements.

“We appreciate that schools may be concerned at the potential for increased audit costs as a result of the Novopay problems. We are working with the ministry to minimise the workload for schools on their 2012 financial statements, as well as minimising any additional work auditors have to carry out," she says.

She has stopped short of launching an inquiry, saying it would be premature given the ministry’s independent review into the matter.

“The agencies that are responsible for understanding and fixing the problems should be given a reasonable opportunity to do so.

“I fully appreciate that this is a difficult and stressful time for all involved, and I will be keeping a close eye on developments. If the steps that the ministry takes do not adequately address the issues I will reconsider whether there is a role for my office.”

Mr Key has also made it clear Talent2 should be “on notice” with the appointment of Mr Joyce to resolve the issues.

bcunningham@nbr.co.nz

More by Blair Cunningham

Comments and questions

Why is the auditor-general getting involved in the Novapay issue? Nothing else to do maybe?

She would be much better spending her time looking into the unions that fund the Labour Party, which in some cases have been seven consecutive years' late/missing in filing their annual financials.

Over on WOBH Blog, it's been discovered they've even had millions of dollars worth of cash and assets "appear and disappear" and no one seems able to follow the trail...

If it is her business then she has neglected it for far too long. If it is not her business then she is just playing "me, too" to get noticed.

Why don't they simply terminate Novopay's contract?

Probably because the contract was written by morons who have left holes Novopay's lawyers can drive buses through.

Because then nobody would get paid.

Too many cooks spoil the broth...

Just another example showing that restructuring is not about efficiency at all, it's the bureaucrat's attempt to justify their existence by rearranging the room a little.

Any investigation, be it the "independent review" or by the AG, should look at the original tendering process. It will be interesting to see how on earth the ministry could select a provider which delivered two years late and with this shambles.

To fix the problem they should allocate the payroll contact money to schools to purchase their own payroll services like any other "small business". Permanent staff are not an issue, non-teaching staff are straight-forward, and relieving teachers can be easily centrally paid (and service accumulated) and costs allocated.

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