Contributed from Victoria
The company contracted to digitally transform Centrelink, turns out, was have previously been behind overhaul the Australian Tax Office for $800 million, which resulted in nearly one million Australians having their tax returns delayed, 17,000 public complaints, 500 bug fixes and reams of unintelligible data being sent to Centrelink.
Taxpayers were issued with debts, when they were in fact owed money.
Human Services Minister Alan Tudge announced yesterday that the management consultancy firm Accenture will be carrying out the transforming Centrelink’s new website and $100 billion welfare payment system.
In the face of the recent performance, this company should not have been given the Centerlink contract. Alan Tudge has so far been silent on how and why the selection was made. He won’t even say how much was paid.
Despite the total lack of transparency, the process raises questions that are in the public interest and must be answered. Something smells not quite right here.
Accenture is a British based global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with more than 336,000 worldwide and operating in 120 countries. The company has been operating in Australia for more than 30 years and styles itself as an ethical business.
However, the recent record needs the investigation.
Those who depend on Centrelink deserve a better deal than they have been getting. It is obvious that the organisation’s IT system has been failing for some time and needs urgent overhaul. It simply needs to function, be accessible and stop creating a mountain of mistakes.
But to pretend that this is going to be a fix all, is evading the truth that the problem is systemic and much of what happens stems from policy.
Engaging a company that has a track record and hiding the details behind closed doors, hardly inspires confidence that there is going to any sort of real turn around.