commentary The IT systems at Centrelink, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and Australia's major banks will likely face a huge test if Rudd's $42 billion package is legislated.
This time ... it won't be just Centrelink's and the banks' transactional systems that come under pressure.
The number of recipients to receive the Rudd Government's latest stimulus package will dwarf numbers under the previous $10 billion package, delivered via Centrelink and Australia's major banks before Christmas last year.
Should the latest package be passed in parliament, around 8.7 million people are expected to receive the $950 handout Kevin Rudd announced yesterday. A further 1.5 million families with one main income earner are also marked for delivery, bringing the total to around 10 million. The last package, which targeted low-income families and welfare recipients, only reached 6 million.
Although this time, since recipients include middle-income earners, it won't be just Centrelink's and the banks' transactional systems that come under pressure.
Following the first stimulus package in December last year, sources within IBM, Centrelink's major technology provider, said the company had been called upon to boost the welfare agency's transactional systems in preparation for the package.
Today, ATO commissioner Michael D'Ascenzo flagged its involvement in the fiscal stimulus, urging taxpayers to update bank account details held by the ATO prior to the proposed April delivery date.
"We will send the payment to the address or bank account people nominated as their preference for the 2007-08 tax return. You will get your payment faster if we have your bank account details," D'Ascenzo said in a statement. He also urged those who had not lodged last year's tax returns to do so via its e-tax system.
The last stimulus package created havoc at Australia's largest bank, the Commonwealth Bank. During the weeks prior to the $10 billion package's delivery, several of Australia's major banks, including St George and Westpac suffered minor outages to their respective online banking services, though neither would confirm why the systems had failed.
However, following an outage of Commonwealth Bank's online banking service NetBank, the bank's chief information officer Michael Harte told ZDNet.com.au that the outage was in part caused by work being done on its two main datacentres in preparation for the $10 billion package hitting CBA's customer accounts.
Harte said he expected the bank would reach 3 million transactions per day compared with the 1 million it normally processes.
At the time of writing, the bank declined to comment when asked what pressures the next package was expected to have on its systems.
Only time will tell how they weather the storm.