Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce is winning praise this morning after he permanently solved the Novopay debacle by restarting the system’s main computer. Joyce, who was put in charge of fixing the faulty payroll system earlier this year, is today describing the solution as “actually fairly simple, it turns out.”
The system, designed to automatically pay teachers across the entire country, was launched last year to widespread criticism after it systematically failed to pay teachers and schools the correct amount. Since then, the government has been desperately scrambling to eliminate the problem, but until today had been unsuccessful.
“We tried everything we could think of” said Joyce. “We made sure the plug was in, we ran a virus scan. You know, pretty much everything. And then John walks in this morning munching on his breakfast bagel, and he says ‘Hey, Steve. Have you tried restarting the computer?’”
“So I restarted it, and yeah, it worked. So that’s pretty good.”
The solution brings an end to months of frustration that reportedly reached a head several nights ago when a half-dressed, drunken Joyce stumbled into a Cabinet meeting screaming “It’s not fucking working! I resign!”
For two months since his appointment, Joyce had been locked alone in a small room near his ministerial office with Novopay’s host computer and a telephone, which he repeatedly used to call the software’s developer, Talent2, on their customer service hotline.
“They’ve been generally pretty helpful” said Joyce, who was reportedly on hold with the company for more than six hours. “They asked me if I had the plug in. I did.”
Teachers and schools are relieved this morning to see their pay being processed correctly, but are now directing their frustrations toward Minister of Education Hekia Parata, who was in charge of the payroll system before Joyce. A number of principals have said that Parata told them, repeatedly, that she had already tried restarting the computer, a claim that has now been called into question.
“Did she or did she not restart the computer?” asked Labour Leader David Shearer. “Or did she merely put the computer into sleep mode and then claim that she had restarted it? And if that is the case, does the Prime Minister still have confidence in her to be a minister?”
Green Party ICT Spokesman Gareth Hughes expressed special frustration with the government today, noting that he had been suggesting the solution for weeks. At question time in Parliament last week, Hughes asked a long series of supplementary questions about Novopay, including “Has the Minister checked to see if the switch is on at the wall?”, “Has the Minister called customer support?” and, crucially, “Has the Minister tried restarting the computer?”
Steven Joyce today acknowledged that the process could’ve been handled a lot better. “We would obviously like everyone to focus on the positive here, which is that Novopay is up and running smoothly” he said. “But there were a lot of places where we made mistakes. Clearly we could’ve tried restarting the computer a bit earlier, and we probably shouldn’t have installed that free emoticon program.”
Asked why he’d done that, Joyce replied “It looked like a lot of fun.”