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Workstream 1: Overseeing payroll projects

Ministers asked the GCDO to provide assurance that expenditure on payroll systems is warranted, payroll project risks are managed, and payroll systems are fit for purpose and provided at a reasonable cost.

Workstream 1 was completed in 2021.

Who and what were involved

Public and non-public service departments and selected Crown entities are subject to the Government Chief Digital Officer’s (GCDO’s) oversight of investment and delivery of payroll systems.

All investment and delivery of agency payroll systems, whether funded from Budget bids or baseline, are subject to the GCDO’s oversight.

The functions of a payroll solution include some or all of the following:

  • payroll
  • time and attendance
  • award interpretation
  • rostering
  • human resources (HR)
  • workforce management
  • self-service
  • data management.

A payroll solution may also include outsourced and/or bureau services. That is, payroll-related services comprised of both software functionality and a range of associated services, provided and managed ‘as-a-service’ by a supplier.

Key oversight themes

The GCDO’s oversight of payroll investments focused on whether there is:

  • alignment with, and intent to adopt, the New Zealand government’s payroll process model
  • an intent to use all-of-government commercial arrangements and ensure there is value for money
  • a focus on the right outcomes (for example, addressing Holidays Act 2003 non-compliance) and acceptable mitigation of delivery risks (for example, Holidays Act 2003 interpretations)
  • a compelling driver for the investment (for example, end-of-life versus incremental enhancement)
  • sufficient capacity and capability (for example, internal governance and external supplier)
  • consideration of opportunities to work across government (for example, opportunities for re-use).

The GCDO’s assurance oversight expectations for payroll projects are set out in the All-of-government payroll procurement assurance framework.

Actions taken

The programme team reviewed all payroll and payroll-related projects at each project assurance stage outlined in the assurance framework.

They confirmed with each agency the accuracy of the investment data it held and then followed up with bilateral discussions about specific business cases and the status of delivery projects.

Further discussions occurred as agencies progressed their investment cases and delivery.


The information collected from agencies informed the GCDO’s advice to agencies on their investment cases and reporting to Ministers on a system-wide view of agency payroll systems.

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