Top state servant probes Novopay

HAMISH RUTHERFORD
Last updated 05:00 05/02/2013

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A former top public servant has been called in to find out "who knew what, when and how" in the Novopay debacle.

Sir Maarten Wevers, who retired as boss of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet last year, will jointly lead the inquiry with Deloitte chairman Murray Jack, who is already heading a technical audit of Novopay.

The Australian-developed software system, which was launched last year, has led to errors in payments to thousands of teachers throughout New Zealand.

Last night One News reported on leaked Ministry of Education documents that said Novopay was in need of a fundamental redesign.

Last week it emerged that Novopay was so flawed it was nearly abandoned five months before its launch, as 147 technical errors were identified.

Prime Minister John Key declined to say whether Government ministers Bill English, Craig Foss and Hekia Parata were aware of officials' doubts when they signed off on the system.

"That's what the ministerial inquiry is all about ultimately, who knew what, when and how," Mr Key said yesterday.

"Yes, there were some flags, about 147 of them in total; none of them were deemed to be a show stopper.

"Most large systems like that have some bugs in them; it's a very large, complicated system."

Steven Joyce, who has ministerial responsibility for Novopay, said the $500,000 inquiry would be funded by the Ministry of Education. It should be completed before the end of May.

"The ministerial inquiry will be a comprehensive fact-finding investigation into all aspects of the Novopay project from the outset to the present day," Mr Joyce said.

Sir Maarten had a strong reputation for independence, trust and integrity, and Mr Jack's involvement in the technical audit meant it made "practical sense" for him to also be involved in the inquiry.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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