A failure to design the IT systems behind the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) around participants has resulted in “administrative burden and additional transaction costs”, a parliamentary inquiry has found.
The Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS today released its report [pdf] from a four-month probe of NDIS-facing IT systems and the MyPlace Portal used by participants and providers.
It follows a Pathway Review by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) in April 2017, which found ongoing problems with the participant portal, and more recent stability issues in the form of a six-month Microsoft connectivity issue.
Faced with the enormous task of enrolling more than half the 460,000 individuals expected to participate in the scheme over the next 18 months, the committee said efficient IT systems could greatly benefit the scheme.
“Having robust and fit-for-purpose ICT systems can greatly assist the NDIA in meeting its operational targets and delivering quality outcomes for participants,” the report states.
This include the potential to “release the pressures of other aspects of the scheme”, such as “the need for participants and service providers to seek support directly from the NDIA”.
But much of the evidence received by the committee pointed to the systems “need[ing] to be significantly improved”, particularly the NDIS website and the MyPlace participant and provider portals.
The committee described the inability to locate information on the website, for instance, as “significantly impeding the implementation of the scheme, while creating “additional administrative burden for the NDIA, LACs, service providers and participants”.
It said it was important for NDIA to “engage with stakeholders to design and enhance all aspects of the ICT services that underpin the NDIS service delivery model”.
“It is clear that a lot of administrative burden and additional transaction costs would have been avoided if the NDIA had initially collaborated with end-users to design and improve the website and the portals,” the committee said.
The committee has recommended that the NDIA “work with service providers and participants to co-design future enhancements to the portal and ‘provider finder’ tool.
This includes “a fit-for-purpose chatbot for the website and portals” to address concerns with the scheme’s contact centre.
The NDIA said it was currently redeveloping the website, and has already improved the MyPlace portal to make the experience “clear, simpler and more intuitive” for participants.
However the Department of Human Services - which provides the NDIS IT system on behalf of the NDIA - said it already places a strong focus on user centred design.