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Govt to Reboot IT Welfare Platform

14 April 2015 at 10:04 am
Xavier Smerdon
The Federal Government is about to begin a project to replace the Department of Human Services decades-old welfare payment IT system.

Xavier Smerdon | 14 April 2015 at 10:04 am


Govt to Reboot IT Welfare Platform
14 April 2015 at 10:04 am

The Federal Government is about to begin a project to replace the Department of Human Services decades-old welfare payment IT system.

Minister for Social Services Scott Morrison says the current system will be replaced with a modern platform as part of an important step in advancing welfare reform and an Advisory Group comprised of experienced leaders from the public and private sectors will be established to oversee the early stages of the project.

"This 30-year-old system consisting of 30 million lines of code and undertaking more than 50 million daily transactions is responsible for delivering around $100 billion in payments to 7.3 million people every year,” Morrison said.

"This important long-term investment will allow the Government to properly address the challenges facing Australia's welfare system, maximise the benefits of e-government, reduce the costs of administering the system for taxpayers and help crack down on welfare cheats.

"This investment will also help us stop the rorts by giving our welfare cops the tools they need on the beat to collar those who are stealing from taxpayers by seeking to defraud the system.

"If we want a flexible and modern social security system that meets the needs of those who rely on it, then we need flexible and modern infrastructure. This will ensure changes Governments make to our welfare system can be implemented quickly and cost effectively.

"ICT reform will also ensure more Government systems are talking to each other, lessening the compliance burden on individuals, employers and service providers. Creating a simpler system will make it easier for people to comply with requirements and spend more time searching for jobs, which is the key element of welfare reform.”

The Government said the multi-year project will be one of the world's largest transformations of a social welfare IT system.

"Work will begin immediately to mobilise the project team so that we can go to the market early in the new financial year,'' Morrison said.

"The project will be carried out in multiple tranches, with customers beginning to see benefits of the upgrade at the end of next year.

"The 1980s technology propping up the current system was built for an era of paper records. It is costly to maintain and incapable of taking full advantage of the digital age.

"Much of the complexity people associate with claiming Government assistance is a result of the red tape created by the ageing system.

"The new system will be designed around the customer, ensuring people are directed to the appropriate services for their situation.

"Improved data sharing will also significantly increase the Government's ability to detect and prevent fraud and non-compliance.

"This means customers who fail to update their details with us will be less likely to have to repay large debts, and those who wilfully act to defraud taxpayers will be caught much more quickly.”

The Centrelink IT system at a glance:

  • delivers 40 different payments and 38 add-ons

  • delivers over $100 billion in payments to 7.3 million people annually, approximately $290 million per day or $12 million every hour

  • sends out 62 million Centrelink letters (paper), approximately 170,000 per day and more than 43 million online letters, approximately 118,000 per day

  • composite of over 350 additional systems

  • the system consists of 30 million lines of code

  • undertakes around 50 million daily transactions, processing 500 to 1,000 transactions per second

  • runs around 16,500 background (batch) processes every night to maintain a smooth functioning system

Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist  |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.

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