The State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie today said that the findings of the Novopay Inquiry serve as a wakeup call to the State Services.  

“Large technology-enabled projects, such as Novopay are complex and require a high level of attention and expertise.  This is true for both the public and private sectors, given the opportunities, and the challenges, of rapidly developing information technology, Mr Rennie said. 

“In this environment, there can never be a guarantee that nothing will go wrong but, as the Head of State Services, I have made it absolutely clear to Public Service chief executives that they are responsible and accountable for ensuring the effective delivery of technology-enabled projects.

“Equally, Boards of Crown Entities have this responsibility for their organisations.  My expectation is that, where needed, Chief Executives will seek support from professionals and act on their advice.

"To provide overall leadership and support to our State Services in relation to the management of information and technology, Cabinet has given the Government Chief Information Officer (GCIO) the mandate to provide assurance to Ministers and to offer support to agencies on these types of projects.

“Reflecting the State Services Commission’s leadership responsibilities and the State Sector reform legislation currently before the House, it is intended to move urgently to improve the capability of senior managers and project managers across the public sector to better service these types of technology-enabled initiatives. 

“This includes moving these leaders to where they can make the greatest contribution to the State Services as a whole.

“In the context of this overall system-wide assurance, the Commission has a specific role in monitoring the delivery of high risk new projects and programmes.

“The report was also clear that the Commission, in an effort to assist, got too close to the mechanics of the project, and in doing so lost the distance and independence needed for effective monitoring and assurance.

“The State Services Commission has learnt a lot from the Novopay experience and the Commission’s major project monitoring function has been strengthened in response.

“There are enormous potential benefits in adopting new technologies to deliver services to the public. However, chief executives should ensure there is clear accountability at executive team level for critical projects, and that executive governance arrangements recognise these are significant change management undertakings and not just an IT issue. 

“We all need to step up to this kind of leadership,” Mr Rennie said. 

Media enquiries:  Lisa-Marie Richan, Director - Communications and Head of Profession (021) 244 1361.

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