8 August 2013

What may give heart to staff challenged to correctly pay 110,000 school employees through the Novopay project, is this week’s news that a payroll failure in Queensland dwarfs the impact of Novopay . A claim is that “the replacement of the Queensland Health payroll system must take a place in the front rank of failures in public administration (in Australia). It may be the worst.”

A $1bn blowout in costs on the project has been attributed to IBM acting unethically when bidding to develop a new payroll application. The job started at an estimated cost of $6m in 2007. “The application is a dud: staff have been overpaid, underpaid, forced to repay money and sometimes not paid at all”.

Novopay features as one of four notable projects on the 2013 project management Catalogue of Catastrophes  webpage.  The Boeing Dreamliner blunder on a project priced at more than $18 bn puts the $34 m cost of Novopay into proportion.  Another sizeable payroll failure this year involves an amalgamation of 13 systems paying 234,000 Californian state employees.  That $234 m system couldn’t work as it was meant to.   And a project for Marin County near San Francisco  which has cost $34m is the fourth featured failure.  What is interesting about Marin is that the provider, who is alleged to have gained the contract through deceptive conduct, was Deloitte – the consultants brought in by the NZ Ministry of Education to solve the Novopay problems.