Key upgrades way behind
An audit has found Services Australia’s ICT overhaul is seriously lagging.
Services Australia is a long way from migrating data to its future welfare system, despite being five years and $1.5 billion into its ICT overhaul.
The Australian National Audit Office has reviewed the federal government’s Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation Program (WPIT), which is aimed at replacing the current ISIS welfare payment system.
ISIS is considered to be dated, complicated and costly, and is set to be scrapped by 2022.
However, Services Australia now admits that the old system will not be able to be decommissioned on time.
The ANAO found several major elements of the future system are still in the design phase. It says the delay in moving off the old platform have “put at risk expected benefits of the WPIT program”.
“Services Australia has not yet established appropriate arrangements to migrate data to the future welfare payment system,” Auditor-General Grant Hehir said.
“Approaches to planning data migration commenced but were discontinued and Services Australia has indicated that ‘that there is no significant date migration in the scope of WPIT Program to date.”
The ANAO says Services Australia has not properly monitored costs, managed cyber threats or accredited some parts of the current system.
It is a concerning finding for the database containing information about the millions of Australians who have received welfare payments over the last thirty years.
“Despite identifying strategic cyber security risks and assessing the generic operational cyber security risk context as ‘high’ in 2018, Services Australia did not cyber security risk-assess, certify or accredit all elements of the welfare payment system as required,” the ANAO’s report says.
Additionally, Services Australia has been unable assess whether it is getting value for money from the current system, which costs around $98 million a year to maintain.
“Services Australia was unable to break down costs, monitor trends over time or assess the ongoing value for money of this expenditure,” the audit concluded.
Services Australia has reportedly agreed to five recommendations put forth by the ANAO, which seek to improve management of operating risks and improve the transition to the future system.
“Services Australia acknowledges that an ongoing risk assessment, project and change management controls, monitoring and reporting for the decommissioning strategy will increase the likelihood that ISIS will be successfully decommissioned under the WPIT program,” Services Australia CEO Rebecca Skinner said.