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Mr Fix-It has Novopay plan

Thursday 31 Jan 2013 4:14 p.m.

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The Government's Mr Fix-It, Steven Joyce, has decided what he's going to do about Novopay. He's going to keep the flawed payroll system and try to fix it.

“We would look to stay and modify where we are rather than jump horses at this point,” he says.

New details have emerged about the system, including that Hekia Parata and other Government ministers signed off on it despite being told it had bugs in it.

To get rid of Novopay's so-called fleas, Mr Joyce has:

  • Ordered an urgent technical review;
  • Put in place a plan to "accelerate software stabilisation";
  • Put in more resources - funded by the taxpayer;
  • There's a contingency plan - using the previous system, Datacom;
  • A ministerial inquiry beginning on Monday.

“I'm not yet convinced it can be fixed,” says Labour MP Chris Hipkins.

Mr Joyce thinks it can but admits it may take months.

The Government will stump up the cash for the extra resources, initially at least. Mr Joyce admits that could cost a lot.

“Lets not get out there and call it millions, it could be in the millions but I literally don't know the answer to that,” he says.

Mr Joyce believes the Government could still break the Novopay contract if this plan doesn't work, without a big financial penalty incurred by taxpayer.

Novopay was introduced by Labour, but today there was a big admission - National Government ministers signed off on it going live despite advice there were bugs in the system.

“There was definitely knowledge there were bugs at the outset of going live. But the advice of all involved was that the thing should proceed. I doubt they'd give the same advice today,” Mr Joyce says.

The three Ministers who put pen to paper have made sure they have their stories straight, but the simple question - "Why did you sign off?" - won't go away that easily.

“Clearly it wasn't ready to be implemented when they hit the go live, and [they] didn't ask fundamental questions about whether it was ready,” says Mr Hipkins.

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