The Department of Human Services has settled on the four IT giants that will carry out its $1.5 billion welfare payments infrastructure transformation, completing the procurement phase of Canberra’s biggest technology project.
It has revealed that IBM and HP have won the final spots on a four-member panel that will be invited to bid for phases in the mammoth system upgrade.
Earlier this week Human Services Minister Alan Tudge announced that fellow panellists Capgemini and Accenture had been shortlisted for the first official bundle of work under the program.
The two will now enter a “competitive dialogue” that will end in one securing the lucrative contract for tranche two of the program, student payments.
“The aim will be to deliver the first set of payments, for the student cohort, in the new system and establish a reusable template for delivering subsequent payments," a DHS spokesperson said.
“Planning and procurement for tranche three will also take place.”
The department's goal in the panel arrangement is to dilute risk and create competitive tension in subsequent contracting rounds.
The four-member panel will be invited to compete for tranches three to five over the coming seven years.
Having also signed SAP as its software partner, DHS's panel decision means the biggest WPIT work packages are now off the market.
IBM's selection on the panel indicates its market reputation hasn’t been mortally wounded by its role in the August Census saga and the subsequent public recriminations between executives and the government.
“All firms invited to join the panel have the capability, capacity and experience to deliver against the department’s requirements,” the DHS spokesperson said.
The department has pledged to treat its WPIT vendors with a generous dose of tough love as it charges forward with the block-by-block decommissioning of its 30-year-old Centrelink payments engine, which is currently relied on to distribute $500 million in welfare payments every day.
The replacement of the system, which has slowed down welfare policy flexibility for years with its millions of lines of code, underpins the government’s future reform plans.