Finance opens pitches for MP expenses system

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Finance opens pitches for MP expenses system

Proposes one-stop shop to replace labour-intensive process.

The Department of Finance has formally invited pitches from suppliers for the federal government's new all-in-one system to manage parliamentarians' expense claims.

It is the next step in what the agency's new chief information and security officer John Sheridan has warned could be a relatively drawn-out procurement process.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the overhaul earlier this year to modernise the "absolutely antiquated" reporting system after a parliamentary review [pdf] urged Finance to develop a business case for a new online integrated parliamentary expenses management system (PEMS).

"Parliamentarians, their staff and administration need to spend less time on redundant paperwork and processes, without compromising accountability," the report found.

"A fit-for-purpose online expense system, while requiring major investment, would allow the Department of Finance to replace manual processing and support higher quality customer service."

The new system aims to replace the many of the paper-based systems that are currently used by senators, members and their staff for expense management.

The first-pass business case was approved in February, and the department is currently in the midst of developing the second business case, which it plans to have complete by October.

The department is now calling for submissions from interested vendors for a commercial off-the-shelf software-as-a-service solution.

A series of speed dating sessions with industry last month revealed that a single vendor would be able to meet all or most of the 15 core capabilities that the solution requires, including HR and payroll management, CRM, and EDRMS.

"Two vendors provided sufficient information to confirm their capability to meet all or most of the 15 core capabilities," tender documents state.

The system will be expected to support at least 3000 users self-managing using a single client record that will be accessible from both desktop and mobile devices.

It will also have geospatial location intelligance and smartforms capabilities “to enforce validation and business rules defined by administrators”.

The department wants the system to be modular and open as possible so it is adaptable to future change.

"We are seeking, perhaps, in the perfect sense, what could almost be seen as a one-stop shop for parliamentarians and their staff," Sheridan told an industry briefly earlier this month.

"The ability to go to a portal, to choose the activities they want to undertake, to do those seamlessly and easily, regardless of where they are and what they are doing at the time."

In addition to replacing the current system that the Department of Parliamentary Services uses for the payroll of senators and members, the system will also replace the existing COMCAR automated management system, which Finance is considering implementing prior to June 2019.

This aligns with the department’s plans to ensure the system is built as iteratively as possible, and in line with the Digital Transformation Agency’s digital design standard.

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