Public Values

Northern Ireland: Leaked memo exposes payroll privatization failure

Civil servants get emergency cash after significant underpayments by contractor; other privatization reforms flounder.

Permanent secretary Paul Priestly wrote the document, which was leaked to the pressby David Gordon, Belfast Telegraph

February 24, 2009 — A leaked high-level document has exposed serious problems in a showpiece privatised set-up for paying Northern Ireland government employees.

The firmly-worded memo from a top civil servant referred to people being left "significantly underpaid" and needing "emergency payments".

It also warned of declining staff confidence in the multi-million pound HRConnect programme.

HRConnect was officially launched last year and involves the transfer of civil service payroll and other personnel functions to a private sector consortium.

The internal document, obtained by the Belfast Telegraph, was written by the permanent secretary of the Department for Regional Development (DRD), Paul Priestly.

It was sent earlier this month to Stormont's Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP).

DRD was left with no option but to make emergency payments to staff significantly underpaid

HRConnect is a major plank of the DFP "reform agenda" for the public sector. It covers a range of human resources services.

Last week, the DFP announced the cancellation of another high-profile reform initiative, the Workplace 2010 scheme for privatising office provision.

In his memo on HRConnect, Mr Priestly said there had been a "lack of progress" in resolving problems. . .

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  Memo shows concern over civil service payroll firm, by David Gordon, Belfast Telegraph, February 24 2009

Posted: February 25, 2009

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