The Department of Human Services (DHS) is hoping to cut the number of system outages across its complex IT environment by 5 per cent per quarter over the next 12 months.\nThe large government agency experienced 137 system reliability outages in the 12 months between October 1, 2011 and September 30, 2012. Twenty-eight of these outages were experienced in environments that were operated by the department\u2019s outsourced providers.\nResponding to a written question to the Senate Community Affairs Legislative Committee from Queensland Senator Sue Boyce in late October, the DHS said systems stability was a key priority for the organisation.\n\u201cImprovement programs undertaken over the past 12 months have realised a 27 per cent reduction in ICT reliability outages during the July-September quarter compared to the previous April-June quarterly period,\u201d the DHS said.\nA DHS spokesperson told CIO that in the last calendar quarter of 2012, there was a 5 per cent decrease in the rate of major incidents experienced for both internal staff-facing and external customer-facing systems.\n\u201cThere were 40 major incidents between October and December 2012, compared to 42 major incidents between July and September 2012,\u201d the spokesperson said.\n\u201cOver the last 12 months, the department has seen a reduction in major incidents of over 75 per cent.\u201d\nAccording to the spokesperson, none of the department\u2019s IT system outages were related to the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) initiative.\nTo improve the stability of its systems, the DHS will cut the number of data centres used by the department from seven to two, located within data vaults, over the next few years. The department will use \u201chighly resilient tier 3+ facilities\u201d to improve service reliability.\nOther initiatives include migrating its customer portal to a 64-bit environment to increase the number of concurrent sessions that its online portal can handle, improving reliability.\nThe department\u2019s ICT teams were undertaking ongoing configuration of \u201cagentless monitoring devices\u201d through its data centres to monitor data packets. These devices are expected to provide more comprehensive monitoring of IT transactions across the department.\nIn 2012, the department also brought range of outsourced managed services \u2013 provided by IBM and HP \u2013 back in-house to gain more control over IT components that contribute towards a service and remove its dependency on third-party suppliers.\n\u201cStability is a major component of the department\u2019s ICT strategy and improving system reliability is an ongoing project which is far broader than these four programs,\u201d the spokesperson said.\n\u201cUltimately, the department\u2019s ambition is that ICT outages have zero impact on both customer- and staff-facing operations. However, the vast scale and complexity of our ICT systems means that will not always be possible and we are aiming for a short-term reduction in incidents of five per cent per quarter over the next 12 months.\u201d\nIn the 2011 budget, the DHS allocated $373 million for consolidating systems run by Centrelink, Medicare and the Child Protection Agency and building a single shared service for these departments.