The Department of Human Services is eager to make the 30 years' worth of citizen data in its control more accessible to ministers and policy-makers.\nThe department is currently "working heavily" on a Hadoop data link so it can better answer the complex queries it receives from agencies, CTO Charles McHardie said yesterday.\n"We deal with ministerial questions, just about everyday, we deal with questions from the policy agencies every day as they try to get their policy settings right," he told the AIIA Navigating Digital Government Summit in Canberra, "whether they're getting ready for the budget each year like they're doing now or whether they're providing advice to cabinet around new policies, we have a lot of data we can try and make sense of.\n"One of the big things we're focused on now is better agility to answer those questions."\nWhere the department had traditionally focused on answering regularly asked questions, the Hadoop project would allow the department to overlay a larger suite of analytics tools and be more agile and answer more complex queries, McHardie said.\n"Now we're trying to get a lot more agile and get decent business insights out of those data holdings that we have. So technology is helping us there."\nThe result would "reduce some of the frustration we get" from the agencies it worked with \u2013 which includes the Department of Health or the Department of Social Services \u2013 McHardie added.\nTalking forms\nDHS is currently in stage one of its massive Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation Program (WPIT) \u2013 one of the largest welfare ICT transformations in the world according to the department \u2013 with a total cost expected to be in the region of $1 billion.\nThe department is currently planning a range of WPIT-related projects including a new online user interface for welfare payments, a new payment utility to deliver payments faster, and work on designing an end-state technology solution for future phases of WPIT.\nAs part of the programme McHardie said his team was looking \u201cvery closely\u201d at a "more conversation based approach\u201d to updating citizen information.\nMost interactions with DHS related bodies, such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Centrelink, came as a result of a change in a person\u2019s circumstances.\nRather than having to refill a lengthy form the department\u2019s goal was to \u201cin a more wholesome manner... ask the necessary questions that we need answered to be able to fill in the fields to make an entitlement assessment and fill in your claim,\u201d McHardie explained.\nOnce a citizen had given their details to government they \u201cshouldn\u2019t have to tell us again\u201d, McHardie added, and the department \u201cshould just know\u201d.\nLast month human services minister Alan Tudge said that changes undertaken as part of WPIT were already having a significant effect, reducing the number of Youth Allowance and Austudy claims on hand, through rejecting claims earlier due to incompleteness or for not meeting basic eligibility criteria. Processing time had fallen, on average, from nine weeks to under five weeks, Tudge claimed.