Under-pressure Centrelink turns to business intelligence

Facing closer government scrutiny and pressure to reduce costs, social security agency Centrelink is moving to boost the way mission-critical internal reports and information are provided to its users.

Facing closer government scrutiny and pressure to reduce costs, social security agency Centrelink is moving to boost the way mission-critical internal reports and information are provided to its users.

In request for tender (RFT) documents released to the market this month, Centrelink -- which operates Australia's fourth-largest information technology network and its largest single-purpose call centre system -- said it planned to acquire a new Corporate Business Intelligence and Performance Management (CBI/PM) suite.

According to Centrelink, information is presently delivered via a hotch-potch of tools, including parts of BI solutions supplied by three vendors, a custom-built balanced scorecard and spreadsheets used for budgeting applications and reporting and statistical analysis of Centrelink data.

The agency said its "primary aim" for the CBI/PM suite was to "rationalise the currently-deployed BI products into a single presentation layer".

Users would more easily gain access to information which would help them drive performance at "strategic, tactical and operational levels".

The suite must include mainstream reporting and analysis, strategic and operational score-carding and dashboards, Centrelink said.

Optional functionality includes budgeting, planning, modelling and forecasting, as well as data and text mining.

The suite should supply information to up to 25,000 end-users, including 5,000 users who would access at least 40 reports per month, 400 power users and IT professionals who would access more than 100 reports per month and 20-50 report developers who would create the reports and data sets as well as manage access.

According to Centrelink, the successful tenderer would face an acceptance-testing period of three months before an initial purchase of five years (a three-year initial period with two one-year extensions). The solution should be able to accommodate Centrelink's projected growth for the next 15 years.

The RFT closes on 10 April.

Centrelink is under immense pressure from the government to improve its efficiency, with one of its strategic directions being to "use IT to work smarter" to reduce costs.

Human Services Minister Joe Hockey is pushing the government to implement a human services smart-card which would slash welfare fraud and sharply increase the number of people who contact the agency using lower-cost channels such as the Centrelink website.

Other Centrelink priorities include forging direct contacts with third-party organisations and agencies to verify customer circumstances and delivering non-paper-based verification of requests to businesses.

Centrelink was embarrassed last month when a government auditors' report found its core database was marred by a series of anomalies and errors, the most notable being that the names of 1.5 million deceased people were still in the system.

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