15 Jun 2013

Another manager quits over Novopay fiasco

6:02 am on 15 June 2013

A second Ministry of Education manager has resigned over their role in the Novopay school payroll system.

The Ministry announced the resignation on Friday afternoon, just three days after it revealed one of its deputy secretaries had resigned because of the fiasco.

The ministry is refusing to identify the person, but says they are a senior member of staff who was involved in the Novopay project.

The staff member was one of two facing an employment investigation for their actions during the development and introduction of the system.

The system has been plagued by errors since it was introduced in August 2012, with underpayments, overpayments or no payments at all to some school staff.

The investigation followed a ministerial inquiry that criticised poor decision-making by ministry staff and said the ministry had misrepresented the Novopay project to government ministers.

Acting Secretary for Education Peter Hughes says employment matters related to the ministerial inquiry have been resolved and the focus is firmly on moving forward.

A computer industry professional say Novopay's botched roll-out was a failure of management, not technology.

Mark Neild says Novopay is a classic project failure, but it was not the IT parts which failed. Mr Neild says the government wanted large changes in the school payroll system, including simpler national pay structures and for school staff to input their own data, and it was wrong to expect the software to achieve that.

Ministry will 'fight' action

The Ministry also says it will vigorously defend itself against a class action brought by the Post Primary Teachers Association over the payroll system.

The union said it filed papers in the High Court in Wellington on Thursday for the class action against Mr Hughes.

In a statement, the Ministry of Education says it fully recognises and respects the right of the PPTA to take this action but will be defending it in court.

PPTA president Angela Roberts says the aim is to ensure someone is held accountable for the Novopay debacle.

Ms Roberts says the union contends the acting secretary failed in the duty to pay teachers as set out in the Education Act, and that the law has been broken.

"It's getting better, absolutely, and Peter Hughes has done a signficant job of making sure it has gotten better, but it should never have happened, and need never have happened in the first place," she told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme.