Labor slams government over Human Services IT woes

Government rebuked over Centrelink payment troubles

Labor has taken aim at the government over problems afflicting Department of Human Services IT systems, including Centrelink erroneously demanding money from families and a pre-Christmas meltdown of the agency's online services.

“It is the height of irony that the Turnbull government is spending so much telling us how they’re innovative at the same time as you can’t access MyGov because the system is down” the shadow minister for human services, Senator Doug Cameron, said in a statement.

“It’s like a script for a political satire,” the senator said.

Cameron criticised the government for spending money advertising its innovation agenda while public-facing government systems continued to face problems.

DHS staff say that many of the problems are due to cuts, Cameron said.

“The government says it will be spending up to $1 billion on the welfare infrastructure payment transformation program, but they won’t release details of how that transformation will proceed,” Cameron said.

“They won’t tell us how much, if anything, will be used to strengthen Australia’s long-term IT capabilities.”

The government in September sought expressions of interest from industry for the $1 billion overhaul of the Centrelink payment system.

The 2015-16 budget earmarked $60.5 million over four years for the first stage of replacing the government's welfare payments platform.

The 'Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation' will "progressively replace Centrelink’s ageing technology platform with a new welfare payment information and communications technology (ICT) system to improve the quality and efficiency of service delivery to support the timely implementation of policy changes," budget documents stated.

The first stage involves planning, scoping and design work.

The budget also included a quarter of a billion dollars for a digital transformation program for government services, to be led by the government's Digital Transformation Office.

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