Extra costs add $1.7m to Novopay bill

KATE CHAPMAN
Last updated 05:00 05/05/2013

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The Education Ministry shelled out $1.7 million in eight months on consultants to help the beleaguered Novopay system.

That's on top of the millions paid out to fix and review the payroll system.

Since its introduction last year hundreds of teachers have been overpaid, underpaid or not paid at all.

Pressure is mounting on the Government as the deadline looms for deciding whether to stick with Talent2's Novopay system or take up the Datacom-provided alternative. The Government has already unveiled $11m in funding to bail out the system - $6m in support for schools and $5m to fix bugs and build a backup system.

The school support package to help with the extra administration work runs only until the end of next month.

There was also a $500,000 ministerial review and $200,000 technical review.

Now information released to Labour shows the Ministry of Education spent an extra $1.759m paying 12 consultants to "assist" with Novopay since its bungled implementation.

Labour education spokesman Chris Hipkins said that was an average $146,583 per consultant for eight months' work.

"Novopay is costing taxpayers a fortune and there's no end in sight."

The Government had a lot of explaining to do given the Budget later this month was focused on fiscal restraint, he said. "New Zealanders don't need lectures about straitened fiscal times and limited resources this May, they need assurances that the education budget won't be further eroded with Novopay."

Since August last year the Education Ministry has contracted 12 consultants to work on Novopay.

Before the system went live, five people were contracted to help.

The core team was increased due to the issues that arose once the Novopay system was in use, Minister Responsible for Novopay Steven Joyce said in response to written parliamentary questions.

"These consultants have taken on additional roles and responsibilities in order to assist with Novopay, for example, to deliver the defect release project and provide project management functions."

A spokesman for Joyce said the $1.7m was in addition to the $11m remediation funding. The consultants were paid to help with the implementation of the end and start-of-year processes, and assist in the development of the Novopay remediation plan, he said.

Meanwhile, ministry staff were focused on working with Talent2 to manage complaints and improve the service. "None of the additional costs would've be necessary if it had been introduced as planned," he said.

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