The federal government has gone to market for a $1 billion welfare payment system, seeking expressions of interest from the ICT industry to help with its design and construction.
The new platform will replace a welfare payment system that has been in operation since the 1980s and delivers around $100 billion in payments to 7.3 million people each year.
The National Commission of Audit last year recommended the government replace the existing welfare system, which is complex due to many policy decisions about its structure and goals, and ad hoc changes that have been made over decades.
Minister for Human Services, Senator Marise Payne, said the start of procurement marks the first milestone for the Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation program, the largest social welfare business transformation ever undertaken worldwide.
Over the next year, the Department of Human Services will commence two major procurement activities – first to secure a core software vendor to select a ‘commercial off-the-shelf’ integrated technology platform with system integrators to be selected next year.
The government expects that the new system will help crack down on welfare cheats with the early identification of fraud, while maximising the benefits of e-government and cutting the cost of delivering services to taxpayers.
“Customers can expect to see improvements to our payment systems by the end of 2016 with enhancements that will make online interactions quicker and easier,” Payne said.
Human Services administered $159.2 billion in payments and there were more than 26.5 million contacts through 431 shopfronts in 2013-14.
According to tender documents, the new system will feature a business rules engine that with common elements across all welfare payments that can facilitate rapid government policy changes.
The software will assess a customer’s eligibility and entitlements for payments and services; a workflow capability to that captures more information at each process step; and a BI platform that enables the government to model the implications of policy reform choices.
The system will also enable to the department to process payment receipts faster and with limited re-work and duplication, while providing improved access to services through online channels, and greater access to welfare services through third parties.
In May this year, DHS CIO, Gary Sterrenberg, said the system would lay the foundation for several innovative projects at the agency. The DHS has been actively developing digital innovations in recent times with its Express Plus apps downloaded 4.5 million times since August 2012.
Its Express Plus Child Support app was released earlier this year and its the Express Plus Centrelink app – launched in 27 June 2014 – had delivered 674,366 downloads as of May. The Express Plus Medicare app had been downloaded 669,397 times since its launch on 27 June, 2013.
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