As the Department of Human Services\u2019 acting CIO Charles McHardie sat before a Senate committeelast week defending his department\u2019s botched Child Support system overhaul, staff at the Child Support agency were forced to revert to pen and paper as the platform suffered a major outage, it is claimed.\nThe Community and Public Sector Unionsays computer systems used by Child Support staff were \u201ccompletely inoperative\u201d for four business days from Thursday last week until yesterday, meaning workers had to take down increasingly frustrated customers\u2019 phone numbers.\n \n\u201cFor four long days our members have had their hands tied, unable to do anything to help clients other than take their numbers and promise to call back when the system is working again. Even now staff are facing a massive backlog and a sluggish and unstable system that\u2019s a long way from working as it should,\u201d said CPSU deputy national president Lisa Newman.\n \n\u201cIt appears it\u2019s Child Support clients and staff who\u2019ll continue to bear the brunt of this rather than those who made the decisions that led us to this point. Staff are preparing to work additional hours to try to get things back on track,\u201d she added.\n \nAccording to the union, its members report limited systems were back online this morning although they remained \u201cunstable and sluggish\u201d.\n \nThe Department of Human Services (DHS) told CIO Australia that claims the system had been down for four days were \u201csimply incorrect\u201d.\n \n\u201cSome customers and staff have experienced intermittent issues which have been resolved. Full services are available for customers,\u201d said DHS general manager, Hank Jongen.\n \nThe DHS last week revealed it had spent the entire $102 million budget assigned to the project to replace itslegacy \u2018Cuba\u2019 payments and case management system with a SAP-based system called \u2018Pluto\u2019.\n \nDespite the significant cash spent on the Pluto project, which was initially intended to completely replace Cuba, much of its capability still comes from the older system.\n \nThe Senate committee last week heard how the set-up meant staff were \u201ccopy and pasting\u201d data betweenthe old system and its replacement, which carries a \u201cbacklog of defects\u201d.\n \nThe department this week held a town hall meeting with staff in Hobart, following similar events last week in Newcastle, to find out what added functionality they want from Pluto. \n\u201cStaff have been supported throughout the process with regular updates from management,\u201d Jongen added.\n\nThe department added thatChild Support customers have not missed payments they are due and will not be affected ahead of the Easter holiday.