The top IT executive of state welfare agency NAV resigned on Monday, alleging that she had been under “inhumane pressure” from her bosses to quit. Nina Aulie had been tasked with modernizing the welfare giant’s complex web of incompatible and sometimes antique computer systems.
A key reason behind Aulie’s decision to resign appears to be a report by consultancy McKinsey, which had looked into NAV’s many tech troubles. In an email to the agency’s IT staff of more than 1,000 people, Aulie claimed that the McKinsey documents were “based on errors and insufficiencies”.
“For this reason, I have resigned from my position as IT director (IKT-direktør) of NAV,” Aulie wrote in the email, a copy of which was quickly obtained by news websites Computerworld and Digi.no.
NAV’s top executive Joakim Lystad later confirmed that Aulie had resigned. Lystad said it was regrettable for everyone involved that Aulie’s relationship with NAV ended this way. But he did confirm that he and Aulie had disagreed for quite a while over how the IT department of NAV should be run. As for the McKinsey report, Lystad said it was “not completed and only part of the picture.”
Shortly after Aulie’s resignation was made public, Lystad got a call from Robert Eriksson, the government minister in charge of labour and welfare issues. Eriksson told website DN.no that he wants an update on the state of affairs in NAV.
“It’s important to me to make sure that the steps being taken do not slow down or reduce the quality of the IT modernization of NAV,” Eriksson said.
“Furthermore, I need to be sure that NAV has necessary competence to manage its new IT solutions in a safe and good way, so that NAV’s users are guaranteed to get adequate and timely help.”
Fixing NAV’s troubles, though, is likely to take a long time. According to DN.no, the agency uses 12 different IT systems with no less than 340 sub-systems, many of which are outdated. The oldest system is from 1978. Under an initial modernization programme with an NOK 3,3 billion budget, the modernization was supposed to be completed by 2018. However, that programme was scrapped about a year ago and split into smaller projects.
About a third of Norway’s state budget is spent on activities managed by NAV, many of them strikingly old-fashioned. Only 66 of the 225 different forms used to apply for NAV services may be filed using the internet, and just two application procedures — for pensions and unemployment benefits — are fully electronic, DN reported.