There’s no shortage of government IT projects that hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons, but it would be remiss of iTnews not to record the official recognition of one of the quiet achievers of sectoral reform, Matt Yannopoulos.
The former Department of Defence Chief Technology Officer and Australian Taxation Office tech reformist was last week invested with the official honour of the Public Service Medal (PSM) for his work in bringing the new Child Care Subsidy system (not to be confused with child support) into being.
These days Yannopoulos is a deputy secretary and COO at the Department of Health, though still well in charge of tech. Which is probably why he copped what should have been a hospital pass of a project in the form of the New Child Care Package.
Public servant vs mummy bloggers? Hey, what’s not to like…
Spanning several departments, and with a somewhat chequered policy delivery history, few noticed the major transition that took place on 2 July 2018 that was the biggest systemic switch in 40 years to deliver the new Child Care Subsidy.
Which is pretty much as it was intended; a gentle, seamless improvement for around a million people on day one, out of the box.
For critics of the Australian Public Service (there’s a few) this may seem trite, but delivery over and above expectations on whole of government IT projects is no mean feat.
There was no press release or ministerial tub thumper for Yannopoulos; iTnews literally stumbled across the accolade through an unrelated attendance at an investiture ceremony at Government House in Canberra.
Governor General, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd), having previously headed the Australian Defence Force is no stranger to the mystical techniques of cat herding to make technology systems and their agencies work together, or the probable pitfalls.
Cosgrove jested that at 25 years in the public service, Yannopoulos was “just a baby”.
(Forward through to 1:04:27 to cut to the chase)
“On the day of changeover to the new system, that was across Australia, how many people signed up?” the Governor General queried at the medal pinning.
“A bit over a million,” Yannopoulos replied.
“How many glitches?” the Governor General pressed in typical army candid camera style.
“A bit of a half of one,” Yannopoulos responded.
“A half glitch … that is a world record, Guinness Book of World Records stuff,” the GG replied.
“Please keep going,” Cosgrove said.
A payments system that works. What’s not to like?