An independent review into NDIS IT woes that blocked care providers from receiving payments has revealed the agency in charge of the scheme knew the system wasn’t ready at go-live and considered delaying the reform program's launch.
Under the new national disability insurance scheme, healthcare providers and other disability caregivers can lodge claims directly with the federal government for services delivered to eligible participants, through the MyPlace portal.
But the portal, built in a hurry from SAP modules already in use by the Department of Human Services, caused headaches in the first months of the scheme's operation when data errors blocked the payments from being approved.
Social Services Minister Christian Porter announced in August that PwC had been called in to get to the bottom of the problem.
Its auditors have concluded that a range of weaknesses set the system up to fail, including under-resourcing, rushed implementation, a lack of training, and testing shortfalls.
The DHS built the SAP-based portal according to an “accelerated delivery approach” after experts deemed the Siebel system used during NDIS trials insufficient to deal with full-scale operations.
But it became clear to the government that data migration would not be complete by the launch deadline of July 2016, prompting it to weigh up delaying the NDIS for 3 to 6 months or setting the platform live in staggered installments.
However, the PwC report [pdf] revealed, the National Disability Insurance Agency instead decided to take its chances and deploy a series of “tiger teams” to resolve any issues as they arose.
Rushed testing had failed to flag that system controls in the SAP platform were stricter than the old solution, meaning provider and participant data from the states that could be processed by Siebel were blocked, leading to the payment failures. These controls have been relaxed while MyPlace is progressively stabilised.
In contrast to the minister’s public assurances, PwC also warned that the system is still not ready to cope with the anticipated 400,000 additional NDIS recipients still to come on board between now and 2020.
“NDIA is not yet equipped to manage the transition to full scale ramp-up, as evidenced by the use of external support for the change effort, and the movement of employees out of their normal roles into temporary teams for issue resolution,” the auditors wrote.
“The impact of these factors will become more evident as the rollout progresses."
PwC has recommended the NDIA hire a number of new resources to the NDIS rollout, including a COO and managers for system transition, data integrity, change management, and stakeholder relations.