Victoria govt owed hundreds of millions after latest issues with fines IT system

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Victoria govt owed hundreds of millions after latest issues with fines IT system

Agency struggles to merge data.

Data issues with Victoria’s new fines IT system are hampering the state government’s ability to collect hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from more than 120,000 outstanding fines.

Reports emerged of the multi-million hole in the state’s finances on Tuesday caused by a backlog of fines in the Victorian infringements enforcement warrant (VIEW) system that cannot be enforced.

The system, which was introduced to replace the state’s legacy infringement and warrant system, is central to the state’s fines management model and allows citizens to review and pay fines.

But issues with the system, developed by Civica at the cost of $103 million, have meant that some citizens are unware of an infringement notice being served.

The amount of outstanding fines from more than 120,000 citizens is estimated at between $328 million and $700 million.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice and Community Safety told iTnews that although the system was operational there had been an issue merging the court fines system into VIEW.

“Due to some complexity of merging data from the courts into the Fines Victoria system, Victorians who have not paid their court fines at the court or at a Justice Centre, have not yet received a reminder notice,” the spokesperson said.

“Fines Victoria continues to work with the service provider to improve functionality with the IT system and this year there has been a significant effort on processing a high-volume of applications for enforcement reviews, nominations and payment arrangements.”

The spokesperson said citizens were still obligated to pay their fines, which were “being issued as normal by the courts”.

The VIEW system has been riddled with issues since the state government decided to introduce the partially operational IT system on 31 December 2017, despite original plans to launch the full system at that time.

Fines Victoria told the Ombudsman in April that the decision to launch the system and iteratively add functionality during 2018 was made after it became apparent the full system would not be ready.

Although the agency was granted an extension to commence operating under the Fines Reform Amendment Act 2017, this was done on advice that the system would be functional at go-live and that outstanding issued would be ironed out soon after.

However, this decision immediately “led to a significant rise in activity and resulting processing backlogs”, with the Fines Victoria unable to serve instruments like notices of final demand until months later.

Since then the number of complaints regarding Fines Victoria has soared, with the Ombudsman receiving 605 complaints about the agency during 2018 – a 74 percent increase on the number of complaints received about Fines Victoria’s predecessor.

Full VIEW system functionality was expected to be in place by June, though the agency had previously assured this would happen by February 2019.

The system represents the second attempt by the Department of Justice and Community Safety to replace the fines system after a 2007 deal with Tenix Solutions was ripped up.

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