The NSW Government is hoping new software will help it claw back $850 million in unpaid fines by making it easier to refer outstanding debts to private collection agencies.
The Office of State Revenue (OSR) is scoping a new debt collection solution after an internal review found the debt-specific elements of its current system, known as RECOUPS, weren't addressing its needs.
Those needs were laid bare in February last year when the state appointed four external debt collection agencies to help fill its coffers by chasing residents holding unpaid fines, mostly for traffic offences.
State Minister for Finance, Greg Pearce, said at the time that the Government wanted the money for "our teachers, police and nurses". (pdf)
The debt collection agencies were initially appointed under a two-year trial. It appears, however, that one year in, the state will need to upgrade its systems to maximise the benefit of having the external debt collection arrangements.
A 2012 review of the debt capabilities of the RECOUPS system identified problems including with logging and auditing, inconsistent business processes, high reliance on individual staff knowledge, and inefficient manual processes.
From the review, State Revenue identified an "immediate" need for new, off-the-shelf debt software.
It hopes to have the solution in place and live before the end of the year.
“The new functionality sought through the Request for Proposal will enable OSR to improve the efficiency of referrals to these debt collection agencies, and extends its use of contemporary technology and practices to further reduce overdue debt," a spokesperson for State Revenue told iTnews.
The new debt solution will need to integrate with the department’s core business systems, which include RECOUPS, a TRIM document repository for tax operations and tax debt, and the Masterpiece financial management system.
RECOUPS has been in place as the state's revenue collection and information system, publicly accessible through the OSR's website, since 1996.
It is being modernised under a program established in 2009, which has included a move to a web-based application with better screens and navigation.