NSW Housing spends AU$20m to cut 'paper shuffling'

NSW Housing is implementing a new IT system which it hopes will free up staff to spend more time on front-line work and less on bureaucracy.

NSW Housing is implementing a new IT system which it hopes will free up staff to spend more time on front-line work and less on bureaucracy.

NSW Minister for Housing, Matt Brown, said the department decided to upgrade after outgrowing its former IT system, which couldn't provide up-to-the-minute data that was required by the agency.

"Staff have had a lot to say with what was wrong with the old system ... Staff were well aware that the project was coming up and were looking forward to it," Brown said.

NSW Housing will spend AU$20 million on the upgrade, scheduled to be implemented by 2010. The system, developed by Australian arm of UK company Northgate Information Systems, uses Oracle's 10g database, which will be customised during the next two and a half years to match the department's needs.

The system is expected to save time on administration, freeing staff for more important tasks.

"There are better ways to help [the tenants] than staff sitting in front of the computer and shuffling paper," the Minister said.

Anne O'Connor, director of the IT replacement project at NSW Housing, said time savings are achieved through exchanging multiple windows -- that each display details such as personal information, work orders and empty houses -- with a single portal.

According to O'Connor, possible future upgrades to the system may include self-service Web portals -- where users can update their own details and participate in mutual exchange registers to swap houses. Mobile access to the system via handheld devices for property inspectors is also on the cards, she said.

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