The Department of Human Services has scaled back the use of its new ‘Pluto’ child support IT system while it works out how to restart the redevelopment project.
The majority of the department’s 3000 child support staff have been directed to stop using the year-old SAP platform for completing their work until further notice.
The platform had replaced the front-end functionality of the country’s legacy ‘Cuba’ child support system, which the department has been trying to rid itself of since determining it was nearing end of life in 2009.
However difficulties with the redevelopment have seen staff continue to use Cuba for more complex work such as calculations, which in some cases has meant repetitive copy-pasting of information.
But changes that came into effect last week will see the department pull staff off Pluto while the department finalises its plan for the system, an internal memo seen by iTnews states.
Only staff from new customer teams based in Newcastle and Melbourne will continue to predominately use Pluto.
These locations will contribute to the design, development and testing of Pluto system enhancements to ensure they are ready to be rolled out more broadly.
“This will help us target our system to ensure we achieve a controlled development and delivery of Pluto over time,” the memo states.
Staff in other new customer sites will use Pluto to register new applications but perform all other activities in Cuba, while all other child support staff predominately use Cuba until the Pluto enhancements are ready.
Pluto will, however, continue to be “available for all staff to finalise work and view past information for the purposes of review” even as functionality is added to the system.
DHS is currently reviewing the findings of Deloitte’s assessment of Pluto – after expanding the scope of the review midway through.
However the end game for the department is still to have a single child support system.
“Our goal is to heave one system that allows staff to provide better services to parents,” the memo states.
Community and Public Sector Union Deputy Secretary Mellissa Donnelly said child support staff were “extremely frustrated” by the ongoing problems.
“Staff working to help children and families are stuck between a rock and hard place,” she said. Cuba is well past its use by date and Pluto has been a costly failure.”
Earlier this year the department revealed that it chewed through the entire $102 million budget for the project two years ago, and had been forced to fund the rest of the redevelopment from its business-as-usual IT budget.