NDIS IT Debacle Blamed On Technical Glitch
31 August 2016 at 12:12 pm
The “IT debacle” that hampered the roll out of the $22 billion National Disability Insurance Scheme has been blamed on a “short-lived technical issue” and a lack of information provided to users.
Minister for Social Services Christian Porter said initial advice from PwC revealed a short-lived technical issue experienced by bulk service providers and an issue around “the adequacy of information” provided to users of the MyPlace payment portal led to errors in inputting necessary information.
He said the situation was improving “rapidly and significantly” but there had been a flow on effect.
“In the National Disability Insurance Scheme’s first month of transition from trial to full scheme, the NDIA experienced difficulty in implementing the new NDIS MyPlace payment portal,” Porter said.
“As a result there were disruptions and delays in payments being made to a group of providers and participants through the payment portal.
“I have been working closely with the NDIA, and now the successful payments to providers and participants have increased from around 70 per cent to a 96 per cent success rate.”
The findings come after the minister was forced to commission an urgent review by PwC following complaints a flawed computer system was leading to disruptions and delays for service providers and clients.
Some providers even claimed they were being forced to suspend their services due to a lack of payments.
Porter said while the NDIA diverted resources to resolve the early IT issues as quickly as possible, there was a flow on effect of a slowdown in the rate of plan approvals for the large number of people deemed eligible for the scheme
“Currently more than 15,000 people have been deemed eligible for the scheme since 1 July 2016, which is more than 78 per cent of the bilateral target for the first quarter of transition. More than 5,000 of those people have commenced the planning process or had their plan approved,” he said.
Porter has called on the NDIA board chair to take action to resolve outstanding issues around information to portal users and ensure that transitional plan approval remains on target in the first two quarters of transition.
In particular he called for an NDIS Transition Management Team to be established to address all outstanding portal issues, plan approval targets and communication with the sector.
A chief operating officer is to be appointed to oversee all of the NDIA’s operational matters during the transition to full scheme roll out.
More than 100 additional staff from the Departments of Social Services and Human Services have also been provided to the NDIA.
The full review into the system, which began on 5 August, is expected to be completed shortly.
The federal Labor opposition has called on Porter to make the review public.
Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services Jenny Macklin said Porter “can’t hide” the findings and the government must take responsibility for the problems.
“Labor urges the Turnbull government to resolve the problems with the payments system as quickly as possible,” Macklin said.
“We have met with concerned disability service providers. In some instances debts are being incurred that are preventing disability service providers from paying their staff. They have made clear that the problems with the payments system remain unresolved.
“Labor wants to know exactly who is responsible for the decisions resulting in the flaws with the MyPlace portal. Which department and which minister is responsible?
“Labor is willing to work cooperatively with the government to resolve the issues with the payments system, but the Turnbull government has to start taking responsibility for fixing the problems.
“No more blame games, no more buck passing – now is the time to fix these problems.
“People with disability have waited their whole lives for the NDIS.”
The call has been echoed by Dignity for Disability MLC Kelly Vincent.
In a letter to Porter, seen by Pro Bono Australia News, she asked to be made aware of the findings and said there were still problems with the system.
“Many providers and self-managed participants continue to experience challenges and inconsistencies when claiming payments, and await further instruction on how to reconcile so called ‘advance’ and ‘emergency’ payments,” Vincent said.
She told Pro Bono Australia News that people with a disability wanted to know when the portal will be fixed.
“To suggest to people with disability, their family carers and service providers that this ‘technical glitch is short lived’ shows little respect and no acknowledgement of the two months of infuriating technical failures we’ve experienced and continue to suffer.
“We want to know when the portal will be fixed.”