Cast of thousands just the tip of the Access iceberg

In a report that resembles an iceberg - more hidden than revealed - KPMG's study into the federal government's smartcard initiative concludes the Access Card development is about change management not an IT project. The study has built a detailed costing model - not revealed, and set up milestones to be met - also not revealed.

The report says, however, the federal government will need to employ an extra 2000 staff to roll out its Human Services' Access Card.

Human Services Minister Joe Hockey commissioned the report - from which much Cabinet and commercial information was removed before its 'public' release - which says both Centrelink and Medicare will need to substantially increase staffing numbers to handle registration for the Access Card which it proposes should start in 2008.

Specific staffing numbers for registration will be dependent on timeliness.

KPMG recommend a three and a half year timeline including 18 months of planning, designing and building the HSS (Health and Social Services) solution and a 24-month registration period.

"There will need to be additional resources targeted to registration and these costs will potentially blow out over a longer timeframe," the report says.

"Similarly, during the rollout period, DHS (Department of Human Services) will be required to run dual systems. This will be very costly if the timeframe is unnecessarily long."

In order for Centrelink to process an estimated 6.5 million registrations in a 12-month period, 1200 new staff will be required and Medicare will require either 900 or 600 additional staff based upon a one- or two-year period, respectively, to process 9.5 million registrations.

A spokesperson for DHS said the figures are sound; however, the department is not yet certain whether it will go ahead with the KPMG report recommendations.

"Who would key this data in is yet to be determined and it is too early to say how registration is going to occur as we have yet to get a lead advisor and CTO on board," the spokesperson said.

"We (Department of Human Services) are not hiring staff for registration at the moment as we are hiring a lead advisor and launching a program for assurance monitoring and the lead advisor will have a role to implement this project.

"The business case was to give ballpark figures of what the project will cost ... the role of lead advisor will be filled from the private sector and only when we have that level of detail will we know who is handling the registration. It may be Centrelink, Medicare or even Australia Post as it handles all Australian passports."

The Department of Human Services confirmed it will be starting an international recruitment campaign for a chief technology architect this week. The position of lead advisor of the project will go to the company that wins the tender to provide the smartcard.

ICT skills summit

A national ICT skills summit will be held in Queensland this week in a bid to overcome staff shortages, falling university enrolments and the profession's image. Organized by the Queensland government, participants in the summit include the CIO Executive Council, Software Queensland, National ICT Australia, the Australian Telecommunications User Group and the Australian Computer Society.

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