Budget 2011: $530m for human services IT

Budget 2011: $530m for human services IT

Summary: The Federal Government will invest more than $530 million over the next four years to integrate the ICT infrastructure and websites of Centrelink, Medicare and the Child Support Agency into the Department of Human Services.

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The Federal Government will invest more than $530 million over the next four years to integrate the ICT infrastructure and websites of Centrelink, Medicare and the Child Support Agency into the Department of Human Services.

In the Federal Budget announced by Treasurer Wayne Swan this evening, the Department of Human Services has allocated $373 million of this half a billion-dollar investment towards consolidating the ICT infrastructure of the three agencies.

The three agencies merged into the one portfolio in 2009, with responsibility for ICT infrastructure handed to then-CIO of Centrelink, John Wadeson.

Over the next four years, the department will move to a single shared gateway for the three portfolios, with a single security management system for payment systems across the three agencies. The department will also invest in a new data recovery centre to house customer data, and move to a single consolidated data management system.

All department staff will also move to a single portal, desktop and email system.

By consolidating Centrelink, Medicare Australia and Child Support Agency core-processing, storage and support, the department is expecting to save $106.8 million over the next four years, resulting in a net saving of $28.5 million.

One-stop shop

The government will invest a further $157.6 million over the next four years to develop the single online portal for customers of the three support agencies to manage their information and make transactions in the one place, using a single secure log-in.

The Department of Human Services said, in the budget documents, that it would be consulting closely with the newly established Office of the Australian Information Commission so that "customers have adequate levels of control and choice over the use of their information" on the new portal.

The department will then also conduct an internal trial where consenting customers of the department allow staff to view all of the customer's information across the three agencies, in order to give staff "a complete picture of a customer's interactions across the portfolio so that services can be matched to changing customer needs".

To fund a new service that will allow people to lodge their Medicare claims for GP services online, $6.3 million will be provided, and $6.4 million in funding will also be given to the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs to enable the sharing of information between the two departments via an ICT interface.

The government has previously indicated that it would like to move to a model where all departments share customer information and users can simply log on to Australia.gov.au for all government services online.

The department is expecting to make $140.4 million in savings over the next four years through greater automation of services and processes via the new online portal. The department is expecting to cut down on the amount of paperwork through the development of the online portal that will allow customers to fill out forms securely online to apply for new services or update their details.

The Department of Finance has also been allocated $2.3 million this year to trial a pilot for allowing people to communicate information to multiple agencies at once using pre-filled forms.

(Carousel image credit: Parliament House image by Mark Pegrum, CC BY-SA 2.0)

See ZDNet Australia's complete coverage of the budget.

Topics: Government, Government AU

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Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • Government's only purpose is to serve the citizenry. Therefore, a department of "human services" is redundant. Similarly, a department for sustainable population is genocidal.
    seanolearyoz