by George Nott

Integrators sought for $1 billion welfare payment system transformation

Aug 02, 2016
Collaboration SoftwareGovernmentGovernment IT

The Department of Human Services is seeking systems integrators for its $1 billion, seven-year Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation (WPIT) programme.

“This is a once-in-a-generation project that will transform Government service delivery to meet the challenges of the digital age,” Alan Tudge, Minister for Human Services said in a statement.

“The WPIT programme makes Australia the world leader when it comes to innovation in the delivery of income support. No other nation is investing in circumstance driven management, risk based management, or flexible modern payment systems as we are. That’s why we’re looking for the world’s best to partner with us on this programme.”

The department noted in tender documents issued yesterday that it hopes to make the delivery of payments and services ‘comparable in customer experience to other services such as banking, retail and insurance’ with a system which ‘pays the correct people the correct amount in the correct timeframe’ and allows for integrated access from other government agencies and service providers.

“The new system will need to support a shift from payment stovepipes to standardised and reusable capabilities across the payments architecture, whilst managing the inherent complexity that comes from welfare legislation and policy,” said the department’s CIO Gary Sterrenberg.

There are some 350 systems at present based on hard-coded rules which have been piling up since the early ’80s, a situation that requires ‘significant effort’, ‘unnecessary costs’ and ‘requires staff to perform manual repetitive tasks that could otherwise be automated’.

The department said it wishes to establish a ‘partnering model’ and emphasised the need for successful vendors to align ‘ways of working’ to its own culture and that it expects ‘commitment to collaborative problem solving’.

Vendors would also need to agree to ‘avoid disputes where possible, but to resolve them honestly and transparently where unavoidable’. The department said it would link performance management measures to these ‘demonstrated behaviours’.

“Our cultures and values must be complementary,” said John Murphy, deputy secretary payments reform. “Our relationships are built on trust, long-term and mutual commitments.”

The department said the programme would be delivered through a series of tranches over a seven-year period.

Contractors will compete at each stage, and those that fail to meet ‘specified milestones’ risked not getting paid. “There may also be liquidated damages payable for late delivery, and other remedies available to the department for poor performance,” the request for tender document noted.

This phased approach, using tranches, was ‘based on industry best-practice and provides the flexibility to review progress, adapt to emerging technology, and work through challenges as they arise,’ the department said.

The government announced it had given the go-ahead for the multi-year project in April last year. The 2015-16 budget earmarked $60.5 million for planning, scoping and design work.

That tender process has identified SAP as the preferred Core Software Vendor, subject to further discussions on commercial matters including value for money.