NORWAY - Statens Pensjonskasse (SPK), the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund, has appointed Accenture and Steria to develop a new system for the pension fund portfolio as part of the pension reform project.

The contracts, valued at more than NOK 300m (€32m), are part of the PERFORM project, which has an economic framework of NOK870m and is scheduled to last from January 2009 to 2011, to organise the necessary changes to the scheme's IT systems, work processes, pension systems and practices.

Reforms to the Norwegian pension system, which include a five-year increase in the retirement age for the old age section of the national insurance scheme, were originally scheduled to come into effect from 2010, however the government confirmed in November 2008 the implementation date had been delayed to 2011.

The reforms mean "major rule changes" for both the state and SPK as the pension fund will have to continue its day-to-day operations while conducting one of the biggest changes to the welfare system since 1967.

As a result, SPK has awarded Accenture and Steria a NOK150m contract each and appointed them as system partners to help with the transition to the new system platform, which is described as Norway's largest Information and Communication Technology (ICT) project, with 100 people already employed on the project in its first month.

Steria has been appointed to provide expertise in the use of Scrum and agile systems - a type of software development - along with Java development, data warehousing and case flow, while Accenture offers expertise in the area of pensions, as well as java development, integration and security and will also take responsibility for the existing systems of the pension fund.

Finn Melbø, executive director of SPK, said: "Accenture and Steria will deliver their own sub package, while at the same time working closely with each other and SPK - under the same roof at project office in Oslo. Close and healthy consultation is one of the most important success criteria for the project."

SPK manages pension schemes for workers employed by the government, state-owned businesses and large parts of the teaching an research sector, with almost one million members spread across 1,600 businesses and assets of around NOK 330bn, making it the largest pension plan in Norway.

Melbø said: "The work on pension reforms in the state pension fund makes it one of the most exciting jobs in the public sector in the years ahead."

The announcement by SPK follows an earlier appointment by the Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion in September when it appointed an actuary to provide consultancy services relating to the pension reform process. (See earlier IPE articles: Norway appoints actuary for pension reform and Consultants sought on Norwegian reform)

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