Wednesday, March 13, 2013

And so he should...

Steven Joyce is known around Parliament as the Minister for Everything, rather as Sir William Birch was in days of old.

But Joyce is also becoming the Minister for Getting Things Done. We're sure that's why he was given the responsibility for the Novopay debacle, and after taking time to get his head around the issues, he has moved up a gear this week. He's also been quick to banish the debt collectors, as the Herald reports:

The minister in charge of sorting out the Novopay debacle, Steven Joyce, says debt collections have ceased following revelations teachers were being chased for overpayments as low as $22.
Teachers have slammed the the debt collection as heavy handed and hypocritical, with some still waiting for the wages they failed to receive as a result of the error-ridden payroll system.
Mr Joyce, speaking on Newstalk ZB this morning, moved to reassure concerned teachers, and said the debt collection had stopped while the Acting Secretary for Education, Peter Hughes, considers the situation.
In his view, teachers should only be pursued to pay back money if it was "significant sums" and if they had ignored other requests to pay up.
"My understanding is you get three letters over nearly two months before any action is taken," Mr Joyce said.

Mr Joyce is dead right to nip this in the bud swiftly. The focus at the moment needs to be on either fixing Novopay so that it becomes the system that the Government ordered and paid for, or exiting the contract and reinstituting the former Datacom system.

Ancilliary issues such as this should not be Joyce's focus at the moment. Overpayments can be recovered in due course, but the priority at the moment is to reach a point where teachers and support staff get paid what they are due on time.

Novopay has been a disaster from the time that Chris Carter signed the first contract with the software providers in 2008. It's fast approaching the time when the dog of a system should be put out of its misery, but only when there is another system in place that ensures that teachers get paid.


bsprout said...

It concerns me that National has so few competent Ministers and Joyce has to keep stepping in to fix the messes.

To continually blame Labour and teachers for Novopay is to ignore the fact that this government had multiple opportunities to avoid the current debacle.

Why didn't they cut their losses when they could have when Talent 2 was constantly in breach of their contract when failing to meet deadlines?

Why didn't this Government insist on a trial before throwing all education workers into a system with over one hundred identified faults?

Why doesn't this government learn from the many past disasters (Housing NZ call centre, National Standards) caused be implementing systems before they are ready?

Why has this Government continued to attack and abuse the education sector when it is the sector identified by the Round Table supported "New Zealand Institute" as being the highest performing in NZ?

BEH said...


Nookin said...

Are you sure he should have nipped this in the bud?

I was listening to the Huddle tonight. It seems that there may have only been seven instances of the debt collectors taking any action and some of those pre-dated the latest sequence of the problems (i.e. they go well back beyond that six months). It would have been nice if some more discerning journalist had asked whether the debts claimed were all $22 or whether they were significantly larger; how old the debts were; whether they had been asked politely to return the money and whether they had responded by telling Novopay to get stuffed.

There was also mention of some temporary teachers having been overpaid and absconding to Australia without refunding anything.

Unfortunately, conclusions have been drawn from hysterical and unbalanced commentary for which I blame unscrupulous teacher unions and a thoroughly gullible news media

Duncan Brown said...

7 bad debts chased and ceased - big deal! I would be more interested in the total value of the 7, and especially interested in the total value of the other 193 from the old system. Anyone overpaid is morally bound to return it asap. And if it was unwittingly spent, it should be repaid in managable instalments. Of course it is not hypocritical to expect monies to be repaid, in the same manner it is not hypocritical for teachers to expect to be paid correctly.

Keeping Stock said...

I agree with your conclusion Duncan, and i am sure that the vast majority of overpaid teachers will gladly pay the money back over time.

But Joyce has got enough hassles with Novopay without giving the teacher unions, parties of the Left and their mates in the media a free hit at him. Calling off the dogs was the sensible and pragmatic thing to do.