Centrelink loses welfare payments overhaul chief

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Centrelink loses welfare payments overhaul chief

Former Human Services CTO drafted in.

The high-profile senior executive in charge of the country’s billion dollar-plus Centrelink IT overhaul has called it quits after more than four years on the project.

John Murphy, who joined what was then the Department of Human Services from the National Australia Bank back in February 2016, worked his last day on Friday.

His departure is a significant loss for the agency, which still has another three years to run on its massive welfare payments infrastructure transformation (WPIT) project.

WPIT is replacing the legacy Model 204-based income security integrated system that is still used to process more than $170 billion worth of payments every year, more than 30 years on.

Murphy has been responsible for the seven-year program of work for more than half its life, first as the inaugural payments reform deputy secretary and now chief transformation officer.

The inaugural chief transformation officer role was established following DHS’ conversion into Services Australia in February.

A spokesperson confirmed Murphy’s departure to iTnews, with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ transformation deputy secretary Charles McHardie to assume the role.

McHardie was DHS’ former chief technology officer - a role that has subsequently been split in two - and served as acting chief information officer during 2018.

He has spent the past year-and-a-half overseeing a wide range of transformational projects at DVA, including the multi-year IT reform project, dubbed the veteran centric reform program.

iTnews understands McHardie took up the SES Band 3 role on Monday. He had already been seconded to Services Australia as part of its COVID-19 response.

Murphy's next steps are unknown, though a return to the banking world would not be out of the question.

Prior to joining DHS, he spent seven years at NAB, working in various senior executive roles, including as the executive general manager of deposits and transaction services.  

Like Murphy, McHardie will work alongside CIO and deputy CEO Michael McNamara to implement the remainder of the WPIT project, which has kicked up a notch in recent months.

Infosys has spent the past six months developing a new payments entitlements calculation engine after it was picked to overhaul the legacy platform last year.

The crucial system is used to work out the eligibility of welfare recipients through the country’s SAP-based Centrelink payments platform, which has already been replaced under the WPIT.

The payments platform, dubbed Payment Utility, is in the final stages of testing before Services Australia puts it to work on Centrelink payments later this year.

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