blog Yours truly hasn’t yet had the chance to comb through the recommendations contained in the Abbott administration’s Commission of Audit report released this afternoon; that will take the better part of a week. However one notable item which has already been picked up by technology media outlet iTNews this afternoon is that the report includes some rather … drastic recommendations for Centrelink’s extremely complex and high maintenance core IT systems. The site reports (we really recommend you click here for the full article, as it contains a great amount more detail):
“Following Treasurer Joe Hockey’s comments about the need to modernise Centrelink’s 30 year-old Model 204 database management system, the CoA has endorsed the upgrade and set the expected cost between $1.2 billion and $1.5 billion. But it went even further, suggesting the Government test whether all or part of the DHS’ payments system (ISIS) … could be outsourced”
To say this statement is controversial is putting it mildly. Over the past decade, Centrelink’s IT systems have, at the very least, been stable, functional and secure, even if the welfare agency hasn’t at times performed at an ideal level in terms of how fast it can deal with the enquiries of welfare recipients. Outsourcing this kind of platform to the private sector is risky in the extreme.
Would a major Australian bank outsource its core banking platform? No. Would the ATO outsource its core taxation tracking systems? No. And yet that is what the Commission of Audit is recommending. Disturbing — to say the least. One suspects former Centrelink CIO John Wadeson — who kept Centrelink’s IT ship-shape for almost a decade — would be more than a little surprised by this one.
I’ll have more to say about this in coming days as I take a closer look at the recommendations in the report.