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Calls to sack Foss over Novopay rejected

Monday 12 Nov 2012 3:07 p.m.

Associate Education Minister Craig Foss

Associate Education Minister Craig Foss

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Prime Minister John Key is rejecting calls for Associate Education Minister Craig Foss to be sacked over ongoing problems with the error-ridden $26 million Novopay teachers' payroll system.

The Education Ministry initiative was launched two months ago with a bungled first pay round that caused thousands of errors in teachers' pay.

Yesterday, there were revelations of a security leak resulting in staff at an Auckland school being given access to personal information and bank account details for hundreds of teachers.

That's despite Mr Foss, who has been delegated responsibility for the system by Education Minister Hekia Parata, last week telling Parliament the remaining 3200 errors in the system would be fixed by Friday.

Labour's education spokeswoman Nanaia Mahuta says Mr Foss is "clearly out of his depth" and has to go, and Ms Parata should step in to fix the problem.

Mr Key disagrees, telling Breakfast today the issue is not with Mr Foss, who is "doing a good job".

"The issue is with the provider and the complexity of what's happening," Mr Key said, adding that Mr Foss has given the company that created the system - Talent2 - until Wednesday to fix the continuing issues, after which it was likely to face a financial penalty "and others".

Mr Key says "a lot of the basic stuff" with the Novopay system is working fine, and the problem is with "very small quirks in the system" around different pay rules.

"A lot has been fixed up, but not enough," Mr Key said, adding that the ongoing problems were not acceptable and Talent2 was "under no illusions" about what was expected of them.

Defending both Mr Foss and Ms Parata, Mr Key said the delegation of responsibility was "totally common", especially in such a large ministry.

He said Ms Parata was "doing a very good job" of her portfolio, despite her scoring a three out of 10 in the New Zealand Herald's rankings of ministers today.

No decisions have been made on whether the Government will compensate schools or teachers for the mistakes.


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