Andersen Consulting has partnered with Centrelink to provide systems integration for Centrelink's Online project, reportedly worth $20 million.
Over the next twelve months, Andersen will design, build and test electronic delivery infrastructure for Centrelink.
"The design of this technical architecture will allow delivery of business applications across the Internet", said Harry Hickling, managing partner of Andersen Consulting.
A separate three-year project will see the design of call centre automation infrastructure to manage Centrelink's national network of 24 call centres with around 3500 seats.
"This component of the Centrelink Online project will enable customers to perform traditional business transactions without dealing with a Centrelink agent", Hickling said. "For example, routine checks on entitlement payments."
Centrelink already fields 20 million telephone enquiries and a further 1.6 million Internet enquiries, which are expected to rise once the channel is actively promoted, said Jane Treadwell, Centrelink's chief information officer.
"We are looking to introduce other electronic service delivery channels for our customers", Treadwell said. "These include kiosks, Internet service, Web televisions and multimedia telephones. However, we first need to put the IT infrastructure in place", she said.
One of the benefits of the new infrastructure will be lowered transaction costs for Centrelink and multi-modal access for customers.
"A customer may begin an inquiry over the Internet and then switch to the telephone", Hickling said. "The technology will allow customers to deal with Centrelink through their choice of media."
"Additionally, the more electronic channels that Centrelink can afford, the lower the costs of transactions.
"This project is not about reducing staffing levels", she added. "Call centre staff will not be downsized; this project will simply allow these call centres to handle larger volumes of business."
The reasons for outsourcing the project, according to Treadwell, is "the need to develop key alliances in the IT sector and to draw on the expertise of a global partner".