Child protection agency signs $5m deal

Whilst facing an Upper House Inquiry into child protection systems, the NSW Department of Community Services (DoCS) has appointed consultancy firm Accenture to replace a 15-year old "outdated" system.

Under a $5 million contract, Accenture Australia will supply a customer relationship management (CRM) system based on software from Siebel Systems, to replace the department's client information system (CIS), an ageing mainframe-based and PC stand-alone intake tracking system developed in-house.

The current CIS has been at the locus of some controversy with glaring criticism levelled at the department by the NSW Opposition for allegedly failing to monitor children in its care and follow up on child abuse reports. A report released early this year by the NSW Ombudsman -- titled DoCS: Critical Issues -- denigrated the information systems, claiming the current CIS is so poor that it is a disincentive for staff to use the system, thereby contributing to poor record keeping by the department.

In a statement Dr Neil Shepherd, DoCS director general said, "the new system will bring DoCS' client information management into the 21st Century".

"Significant legislation and policy changes have altered requirements for gathering and reporting information. The new system will cater for these changes and provide the flexibility to respond to future legislative changes," he said.

A DoCS project team will work with Accenture to configure the system to suit departmental needs. DoCS expects the system will be used organisation-wide to help caseworkers and managers keep track of case management records and better manage child abuse reports.

Accenture won the contract in a competitive tender against six other suppliers, which a spokesperson from DoCS declined to name.

Attempts to contact managers in the IT department at DoCS before deadline were also rejected by the NSW child protection agency's management.

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