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The federal government’s troubled myGov website has had a digital makeover to make it more intuitive to navigate, nicer to look at and easier to access using mobile phones or tablets.

The overhaul was made more pressing by the large jump in traffic to the government services portal over the last two years. The federal government said that myGov had 10 million users and dealt with more than 242,000 logins every day: twice the number of logins from just two years’ ago.

It is a pivotal website that millions of Australian must interact with daily, dealing as it does with a huge range of services. MyGov was launched in 2013 to provide a single access point for ten different agencies providing services including Medicare, tax, Centrelink, the National Disability Insurance Scheme and My Health Record.

The government has recognised that any failure of myGov or rising customer frustration with the system can be a very public and vocal affair.

Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation Angus Taylor said in March this year:

“The public will ultimately judge us when they go on to the myGov website, when they pay their tax or ask for a refund, when they come through immigration, when they are engaging with the industry portfolio as a small business, they will judge us on how that goes.

“They’ll accept that there are speed humps along the way. But they will be unforgiving if that experience doesn’t continually improve.”

The changes were in response to ‘hundreds of hours of user research’ which revealed common complaints about the website, including the difficult language used, confusing instructions and dumping large swathes of information on users.  

People also complained about how often they were locked out of their accounts and the difficulty in getting these unlocked.

The joint statement by Mr Taylor and Human Services Minister Alan Tudge about the myGov revamp said this problem had been addressed to make signing in easier and to allow users to unlock their own accounts once they had been suspended. 

They claimed the changes had resulted in incorrect logins being reduced by 37 per cent.

Mr Taylor said: “We listened and we got it. The new look myGov also demonstrates how the DTA can partner with other agencies and departments to transfer skills and transform delivery.”

The sign-in process had already been tinkered with over the past year to show users passwords as they typed them (to cut down on login failures and account suspensions) and allowing people to use email or mobile numbers instead of just alphanumeric usernames.

Mr Tudge said the government had incorporated user feedback and collaborated with other departments to fast-racked changes.

“Our investment in myGov is transforming the way people do business with government - making life easier for 10 million Australians,” Mr Tudge said.

“In response to user feedback, we’ve also made it easier for users to find and access the services they need.”

The rollout, which occurred over the weekend, was a joint project between the Department of Human Services and the Digital Transformation Agency and the Australian Tax Office.

The government said the Discovery and Alpha phases were completed by the Digital Transformation Agency while the prototype stage and the beta product were a partnership between the ATO and DHS.
                    [post_title] => MyGov: “we listened and we got it” says minister after digital makeover
                    [post_excerpt] => Users double over two years.
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The Department of Health has said 22,000 home care packages have been released under the new system and it will release detailed data in July on how it’s performing.

Bonnie Carter says her 84-year-old mother has been waiting for a high-level home care package for more than 70 days.

Ms Carter says that since an Aged Care Assessment Team assessed her mother as needing the package, “nothing has happened.”

“There’s been no contact other than me calling My Aged Care several times to see where she is in the queue and how long she might have to wait,” Ms Carter says.

“Apparently no one can tell anyone anything about this mythical queue until the end of this year,” she adds.

Under the latest aged care reforms that came into force on 27 February, the Department of Health has created a new centralised process for allocating home care packages directly to consumers.

As part of the new system a “national prioritisation process” has been created: after a senior is assessed as needing a home care package they join a new national queue where they wait to be allocated a package.

How long a senior waits on the queue is based on various factors – such as their level of need, how long they’ve been waiting and how quickly a package at their level of need becomes available (the number of packages is increasing but remains capped by government).

It’s a complex new system and, in the absence of transparency around how it is working, confusion is mounting among providers and consumers.

Read more here.

This story first appeared in Australian Ageing Agenda. 
                    [post_title] => Confusion reigns over Health's new aged care queue
                    [post_excerpt] => My Aged Care under fire. 
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Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim. Pic: YouTube.


A new Australian Public Service (APS) Privacy Code covering the data citizens give to the federal government will be in place by 2018, prompted by the outcry over Centrelink robo debt and data matching.

Today’s [Thursday] joint announcement by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) said the two would work collaboratively on the new code, which aims to ensure a balance between data protection and privacy and data innovation and its use by Commonwealth agencies.

Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim told the Senate Community Affairs References Committee, which is conducting a public hearing into the Department of Human Services’ Online Compliance Initiative (OCI) in Canberra today, that the code would cover how data should be ‘respected, protected’ and regulated into the future, consistent with community expectations.

Mr Pilgrim said the code would be binding and failure to comply would be a breach of the Privacy Act. The current guidelines are voluntary.

He said penalties could range from asking for a written undertaking that an organisation would change their processes and comply - ultimately enforceable in the federal court – to civil penalties in a federal court which could reach up to $1.8 million for serious breaches.

The OAIC will lead on the code’s development due to the organisation’s specific privacy expertise and the code will be implemented APS-wide. All agencies will also need to have a privacy management plan in place under the new code.

The Department and the OAIC said the code was vital to maximise the value of publicly held data.

“The code can therefore be a catalyst to transform the Australian government’s data performance – increasing both internal capacity and external transparency to stakeholders,” they said.

Commissioner Pilgrim said the code would ‘support government data innovation that integrates personal data protection’ while giving the APS the ‘skills and capabilities’ it needed to manage personal information.

A storm over data privacy occurred after Fairfax published a piece by blogger Andie Fox in February which was highly critical of the DHS’ automated debt recovery drive, designed to claw back more than $1.5 billion over five years. In her article, Ms Fox claimed she had been pursued and ‘terrorised’ by DHS for money she did not owe after a relationship breakdown.

In response, DHS disputed Ms Fox’s account and leaked some of her personal information to a journalist, including her Family Tax Benefit claims and relationship details.

The government later defended itself arguing that it was allowed to release personal information to correct inaccurate public statements under social security legislation.

Federal Labor MP Linda Burney later referred the matter to the Australian Federal Police but the AFP concluded that Human Services Minister Alan Tudge had not breached Commonwealth legislation.

The government said the new privacy code would be developed in close collaboration with the APS and data stakeholders and it would apply to all Australian Government entities subject to the Australian Privacy Act 1988.

 
                    [post_title] => New APS privacy code on the back of Centrelink robo debt
                    [post_excerpt] => Penalties of up to $1.8m for serious breaches.
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  By Mark Say, Managing Editor UKAuthority.com This story first appeared in UKAuthority.com and appears here by kind permission of the author.    Rob Whiteman, chief executive of the UK's Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy talks about the financial challenge in spending on digital transformation – along with the integration of health and social care Pic: CIPFA Rob Whiteman spends a lot of time thinking about the financial dilemmas facing local government, and there is a major one around digital transformation. Almost everyone agrees it is a necessity, but it comes with a big price tag, and with councils’ budgets already cut to the bone it is a tough call to make a case for heavy investment on which the return is likely to be years away. As chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy (CIPFA), Whiteman has a day-to-day preoccupation with local authorities’ bottom line. It is not a direct responsibility, but as the professional body for officials at the sharp end it plays a significant part in honing the thinking. He recites the basics of local government’s current difficulties: spending down by approximately 40% since 2010, demands on social care that have led to a 5% increase for children’s services and a 10% limit on the cuts for adults, and much sharper reductions in areas such as regulatory services and running libraries.

Creating space

“The problem is that creating the space and investment for digital transformation is difficult when you don’t have the money to keep the show on the road today,” he says. “Everybody can see that, particularly with Generations X and Y, people want to access services in a different way. They want 24/7 services and want to be able to transact on the web. “That needs investment, and local government has many strengths, but it’s hard for it to make system investment when it’s more than 400 organisations. You need an organisation like DCLG (the Department for Communities and Local Government) to be able to pump prime. “If local government were not 400 institutions it could probably not have borne the cuts it has, but if you want to invest in something different, while the bigger authorities can find the space to do this, it’s very difficult for a small council with big budget constraints. Ideally it should mean working with other authorities to invest in it together.” The joint investment is not happening on any large scale and, since the Government Spending Review of 2015 provided nothing to support local digital efforts, there is no pump priming from the centre. There are organisations such as CIPFA, the Local Government Association and public sector IT association Socitm to support some coordination and shared effort. Whiteman says they can provide help, not just in arguing the case for local authorities but in challenging how they do things, pressing for more economies of scale and to avoid duplication. But councils still have to spend on investment, and Whiteman provides some advice on how they can make the process more manageable.

Look for good practice

“Number one, somebody has almost certainly already done it,” he says. “Actively go out and look for good practice and find councils that have already done something you’re thinking of doing. “Secondly, if you’re going to do it, do it well, and make sure you have the right capability. The best business cases are those that may cost a bit more than people are comfortable with but give greater assurance they will be delivered because you have the capability and capacity to deliver them well. “And try to do it with other people. Find other councils to work with, or partners that have already done something like this.” He emphasises the importance of being very clear over the expected benefits – “the more work on benefits realisation the better” – and the linking of digital and service strategies. But he suggests that councils will struggle if they do not take a more collective approach. “I think local government is good at implementation; it has been able to make 40% cuts because it has implementation skills. The weakness is that implementation tends to be for individual organisations rather than at scale, and if it were done at scale the benefits realisation probably could have been ever greater.”

STP ups and downs

Things get even more demanding when you look at the need for integrating services. The Government has made this a big issue for health and social care with the Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) for England, a move for which he sees up and down sides. On the one hand, he describes them as “a really difficult brand”, not helped by many having been drawn up with little or no public consultation; on the other, they could foster a better working relationship between councils and the NHS. They have different skills sets and financial settlements, with councils being accountable to local electorates while NHS bodies report to the secretary of state for health. This fosters different outlooks, but “these are so different that if they work well with each other the prize can be enormous”. He says the test will be in whether they develop the right attitude to working together: “I think STPS should be organisations where they want to work with each other and don’t feel they are being strong armed. They are an organisational development exercise to build trust for people to get used to transacting with each other. “The test of the good ones will be that, after they are abolished, people will want to carry on working that way because they have been successful.”

Sense of place

This will depend partly on how strongly the participants feel a sense of common purpose based on their communities – a “sense of place” as Whiteman puts it – and a willingness to break out of their organisational silos. This is not easy to achieve, as the breakdown of the Total Place policy in the late 2000s demonstrates. But he is hopeful that the move to city devolution, with Manchester at the vanguard, will provide momentum. “My experience is that a sense of place can act as the biggest drive for collaboration of anything that I’ve seen. What I admire about Manchester is that there’s a sense of place, in that people think they are not supporting the public interest as they should if they stick by the present organisational boundaries and siloes. “A sense of understanding the issues of a community and feeling a passion to do something about it is the most powerful.” His other big hope in the technology field is that government makes more of data analytics. He says it could be valuable to local government in plenty of activities, especially social care and public health. “That type of capability has incredible opportunity in other policy areas - identifying children likely to be at risk, people who are likely to be vulnerable, people who are likely to have poor health. There are very real information management and ethical issues about the degree to which the state makes use of data, and we are going to have to work that through with other policy areas, but data analytics could inform on a whole range of policy issues.” Through all this Whiteman conveys a combination of acknowledging the starkness of the financial situation facing local government, and an optimism that it has the qualities to find some long term solutions. There is no doubt that digital is going to play a big part.  
[post_title] => Facing local government’s digital dilemma [post_excerpt] => Tough spending choices for UK local councils. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 27122 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-16 10:00:36 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-16 00:00:36 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27122 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27106 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-05-12 11:29:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-12 01:29:31 [post_content] => First medicinal cannabis import: CanniMed cannabis oil.    Seriously ill Australians can now access imported medicinal cannabis after the first licensed imports of the drug arrived in Perth last week. The drug was imported by Australian wholesale company Health House International and ASX-listed cannabis company Creso Pharma, a Swiss company. The cargo contained three different types of cannabis oil from Canadian company CanniMed, each designed to tackle different symptoms and retailing for about $350 a bottle, which should last patients about a month. The federal government gave the go ahead for companies to grow and manufacture medicinal cannabis late last year but it will still be a while before patients can access Australian product, said Health House Director Paul Mavor. Mr Mavor said it would take some time for companies to get permission to set up their operations and then get them reinspected and licensed. “Within 12 to 24 months we will be starting to see some really good [Australian] product and hopefully we will be exporting that,” Mr Mavor said. Health House International was granted one of the first medicinal cannabis import licences in February, soon after Health Minister Greg Hunt gave the go ahead to fast-track medicinal cannabis imports while local cultivation catches up. Australian product should be cheaper for patients as there will be much lower shipping costs and no freight duties but this will also depend on domestic (and possibly overseas) demand and whether companies can achieve economies of scale. Around 100,000 Canadians currently use medicinal cannabis and Mr Mavor is predicting about 70,000 Australians will eventually follow suit. Interestingly, Mr Mavor said that he had been speaking to some private insurance funds who had indicated they may be interested in subsidising the drug for some people, for example, those involved in car crashes or war veterans, because it could keep them out of hospital and keep costs down. In a few years it is possible that medicinal cannabis will be listed under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, once it has been tested in the local market, says Mavor. “It is likely. Some conditions that some patients are using medical cannabis for, they don’t have any other options.” Cannabis is cost-effective because it has five different uses in one hit: it can relieve nausea, vomiting, anxiety, insomnia and chronic pain. Health House International's Paul Mavor. Pic: Supplied.   But Mr Mavor said while demand in Australia is strong, the process for prescribing medicinal cannabis had been made torturously difficult by the federal government, which has left states and territories to set their own rules. Many demand that patients get approval from both the federal and state or territory health departments because the drug is listed as a Special Access category B drug. Federal legislation to make the drug category A, which would have allowed doctors to complete online form and obtain instant approval, was blocked in the senate this week by Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and the Nick Xenophon team. Australian Greens Leader Dr Richard Di Natale said he was deeply disappointed that politicians had put the needs of terminally ill patients second to “their own political games”.  “Patients are currently waiting weeks and sometimes months for access to these treatments. This motion could have reduced that to a day or possibly hours,” Mr Di Natale said. “For some of these patients, speedy access to medicinal cannabis is the difference between being able to eat or wasting away. These changes add time, stress, and difficulty for terminally ill patients accessing medicinal cannabis.” Mr Mavor says the strictest prescription regime is in Western Australia, where a huge amount of information is demanded and approval must be sought from federal and state health departments and from the practitioner’s ethics board. He said the easiest system was in South Australia, where doctors could prescribe the drug for two months for patients at any one time and Queensland, Victoria and NSW were passable. Once prescription problems are ironed out the industry looks set to have a bright future ahead of it. David Russell, Chief Operating Officer of Creso Pharma said the first successful import of medicinal cannabis products into Australia was “a ground-breaking moment for patients and the medical industry”.  “The Australian market has been catching up with community expectations while the regulatory framework around medicinal cannabis was being developed,” Mr Russell said. “Now these products will allow patients to have the option of medicinal cannabis treatments if it is prescribed by their physician. This is particularly important given the unmet but often immediate need to access a timely medicinal cannabis supply across Australia.” To be prescribed medicinal cannabis products, patients must see a physician who is an authorised prescriber, or apply for SAS Category B prescription under the Therapeutic Goods Administration regulations. [post_title] => First medicinal cannabis imports arrive in Australia [post_excerpt] => Prescription rules hold patients up. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => first-medicinal-cannabis-imports-arrive-australia [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-12 11:29:31 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-12 01:29:31 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27106 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27076 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-05-08 15:52:04 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-08 05:52:04 [post_content] =>   Public servants and local councils are hoping Treasurer Scott Morrison's 'good news' Budget really is. Pic: YouTube.     Housing affordability, a staged unfreezing of the Medicare rebate, infrastructure spending and Gonski 2.0 are all widely tipped to feature prominently in Treasurer Scott Morrison’s “good news” Budget tomorrow. Other likely announcements include a one-pay payment for pensioners to offset electricity price increases, funding for veterans’ mental health programs and dumping billions of dollars worth of education and health ‘zombie’ cuts. Meanwhile, Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen has already called Mr Morrison's Budget a “pale imitation of Labor policy” and said it is merely an attempt to save Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership by “trying to close down issues”, while warning Catholic schools will stage a rebellion against their recalculated, lower funding. “It is designed to save Malcolm Turnbull's leadership, desperate to get a positive Newspoll,” Mr Bowen told Barrie Cassidy on Insiders yesterday. “These half measures: one step forward, two step back, coming down the road towards Labor policy is [not] going to fool anybody. Of course, the fact Labor's led the policy agenda on health, education and housing affordability means the government is playing catch-up. “Whenever someone is playing catch-up with you, that’s better than not catching up with you, but they are still a long way behind on these policies.” But aside from the politics, what impact will the Budget have on local government and where will the inevitable spending cuts to fund the goodies come from? Local government wish list The biggest, most pressing issue for local government is the fervent hope that the federal government will finally end the freeze on the indexation of Financial Assistance Grants  (FAGs) to councils, a decision which Joe Hockey deferred for another three years in his horror 2014 Budget. Regional and rural councils have borne the brunt of this measure, since they are much more dependent on FAGs for their general funding than metro areas due to their weaker rates’ base. In April, the peak body for the nation’s local councils, the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), mounted a social media campaign pressing the government to end the FAGs freeze, while pressing the government to increase the quantum of FAGs in proportion to Commonwealth tax revenue. In 1996 FAGs were equal to about 1 per cent of Commonwealth tax revenue; by 2013-14 FAGs amounted to around 0.67 per cent of total. A growing infrastructure maintenance backlog, particularly in NSW, has seen ALGA request that the Roads to Recovery program should be permanently doubled, the Bridges Renewal program made permanent and Fairer Roads Funding restored for South Australia, at $17.5 million per annum. The Association’s federal Budget submission also asked for $300 million a year over the next four years to fund community infrastructure which it said would stimulate long-term growth and build community resilience. Disaster funding and support to address climate change is also a priority for those councils in flood prone areas. ALGA has asked for a disaster mitigation program to be established funded at $200 million per year and an investment of $100 million over four years to support councils to manage their own climate risks. The Association also asked that the government to review municipal funding for services around indigenous housing, health, jobs and education. ALGA President David O’Loughlin said it was “an ideal time to invest in roads and bridges, community infrastructure and guarding against the world impacts of climate change” as well as the time “to start the discussion about the reality of the current funding constraints experienced by councils”. “ALGA understands the fiscal challenges facing the Commonwealth, however, expenditure on priorities does not wait for a convenient moment,” Mr O’Loughlin said. “Indeed, ALGA would argue that in times of fiscal constraint governments should focus on community priorities and investment in productive infrastructure through the most efficient processes to deliver programs.” Specific items expected in the Budget include a $2.3 billion state-federal package for Western Australia to pay for freeways, regional roads and the Metronet rail project; motorway upgrades for South East Queensland and progress on the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project, alongside $6 billion for a second Sydney airport at Badgerys Creek. There is also likely to be an announcement of a further roll-out of City Deals, which focus on new infrastructure to help regional areas around urban centres. It will be fascinating to discover is there is any mention of the National Party-led push to decentralise government jobs, typified by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicine Authority’s move from Canberra to  Armidale, in tomorrow's Budget. The cuts One cut that has already been foreshadowed is reduced Commonwealth funding for universities, tighter rules around HECS repayments and a 2.5 per cent efficiency dividend that universities must meet. There may also be a series of smaller health programs that may be slashed or abandoned. Meanwhile, the Community and Public Sector Union is stealing itself for yet another round of public service job cuts, predicting that a further 4500 jobs could be slashed “if the government maintains its hard-line cuts” and adds to the 18,000 scalps it has already claimed. Instead the union is asking the government to target its money saving efforts at consultants and contractors and company tax avoidance and restore ATO jobs to prosecute this drive. CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said the relative silence before the Budget had been “strange and a tad unsettling” for government workers. “Treasurer Scott Morrison and the government in general have said much less about the national accounts than they normally would,” Ms Flood said. “That silence hasn't exactly been reassuring for the public servants who keep the wheels of government turning. This government has repeatedly used them as a political football while also making harsh and short-sighted cuts. “Let's hope the government puts ordinary Australians first with this budget, rather than shooting itself in the foot with another round of counter-productive public sector cuts.” We’ll have to wait and see. [post_title] => Budget 2017: Implications for local councils [post_excerpt] => Union fears further public sector job cuts.   [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 27076 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-09 11:48:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-09 01:48:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27076 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27064 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-05-05 15:27:36 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-05 05:27:36 [post_content] =>
[caption id="attachment_27066" align="alignnone" width="700"] The World Trade Organisation has reportedly rejected a case against Australia’s plain packaging laws.[/caption]
  By Lucy Marrett The ABC has reported on a rumour that the Australian Government has won a dispute regarding international tobacco plain packaging.
The rumoured ruling in Australia’s favour is set to give the green light to other countries to roll out similar laws. A British American Tobacco (BAT) spokesperson said the news regarding the ruling was “speculation”. “However, we can say that there is still no proof to show that plain packaging is meeting the objectives set out by the government,” he said. Cancer Council Victoria said it welcomed recent findings by an independent study released in April which they said found that plain packaged tobacco products “may” reduce the prevalence of smoking.   Read more here.
  This story first appeared on C&I Week. [post_title] => WTO to rule on Australia’s tobacco plain packaging laws [post_excerpt] => Other countries likely to follow suit. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => wto-rule-australias-tobacco-plain-packaging-laws [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-05 15:27:36 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-05 05:27:36 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27064 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27053 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-05-05 11:52:29 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-05 01:52:29 [post_content] =>   Talking data: Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation Angus Taylor. Pic: YouTube.      The federal government’s Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation, Angus Taylor, put data at the heart of transforming how Australians deal with the government in a speech to public servants this week but he did avoided any talk of how matching datasets can cause mayhem, as it did in the recent Centrelink robo-debt debacle.   Mr Taylor said data was essential to ensuring “efficient payments or preventative compliance” when he spoke at the Chief Data Analytics Officer Public Sector Forum earlier this week (Wednesday). The government’s online compliance intervention (OCI), which began in June last year, caused an avalanche of complaints from distressed Centrelink clients, many of whom found it difficult to get through to a Human Services human being to help them resolve the issue. At one point, up to 20,000 people a week were receiving debt notices. The notices were automatically generated if a discrepancy was found between Tax Office data and benefits paid. Mr Taylor told the forum: “Now when we mention compliance people immediately think of debt collecting but what I'm talking about is making sure the payment that goes out the door is right. “It's a fundamentally important service delivery tool for the citizen and for many years and across both sides of government beneficiaries of payments have been incurring debts which often are unintended.” He called it “a big problem for citizens and a big problem for government” because every dollar paid out incorrectly to claimants cost more to recoup. But he steered clear of name checking the Centrelink robo-debt crisis, which blew up before Christmas last year, after thousands of benefit claimants, past and present, received letters asking them to explain a discrepancy between ATO data and their Centrelink benefits or pay back a chunk of money. A Commonwealth Ombudsman report later criticised the Department of Human Services for placing “unreasonable” expectations on claimants and communicating poorly with them but did not condemn the data matching process itself or question its accuracy. Mr Taylor extolled the virtues of the government’s Geocoded-National Address File as he spoke, adding that the file enabled correct payments and tackled fraud. “There can be zero error or fraud from either the beneficiary or the public servant processing the claim. But because of an inaccurate dataset we could make the wrong payment,” he said. “So improving the quality of our information has immediate and substantial benefit to both.” After the Ombudsman’s inquiry, DHS agreed to use registered post to contact customers, as some letters never reached their recipients. Despite the problems caused by robo debt and the online Census meltdown in August, which he said had taught the government ‘real lessons’, Mr Taylor did not resile from putting technology and data front and centre of the government’s service improvements. One of his top priorities, he said, was “a smooth easy log on experience and the ability to streamline your identities with government”, citing GovPass and my Gov 2 as good examples of achieving this.  “The way I think about technology transforming customer service is broad. It's not just portals and services, although those things are important,”Mr Taylor told the forum. “The delivery of a high quality application programming interface has just as much potential to serve the needs of a customer as any other project.” Mr Taylor praised data.gov.au, the national open data portal containing over 20,000 datasets, and the NationalMap’s geospatial datasets. “We firmly believe it is time to build on our initial success and transform how government uses data - from what remains a cottage industry - into a central plank of how government works.” “To do that we must focus on three main areas: analytics, policy problems and efficient payments.” He placed ‘smaller agile projects’ over ‘big traditional waterfall projects’ and said that research of 50,000 projects internationally showed that only 3 per cent of large projects were untroubled, compared with 58 per cent of smaller agile projects. Mr Taylor said the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) had more powers to review and monitor projects than the federal government had ever done before. “This is a critical point – no government of either stripe has had the strategic overview that this government is now conducting into the Australian people's multi-billion-dollar investment.” [post_title] => Digital Transformation Minister talks data, avoids Centrelink robo debt [post_excerpt] => Says DTA's powers at their height. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => digital-transformation-minister-talks-data-avoids-centrelink-robo-debt [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-05 12:12:19 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-05 02:12:19 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27053 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27014 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-05-02 12:53:20 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-02 02:53:20 [post_content] =>

Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt.   By Darragh O'Keefe   The Commonwealth has launched an independent review to determine how federal regulators failed to detect the scale of the issues at South Australia’s Oakden facility.
In a damning review the state’s Chief Psychiatrist said the facility was “more like a mental institution from the middle of last century” than a modern older person’s mental health facility.He called for the centre to be closed and replaced by more contemporary services after highlighting a range of concerns around the model of care, staffing, safety, culture and use of restrictive practices. Last week the State Government said it was closing the centre and would develop a new state-wide model of care for older people experiencing several behavioural and psychosocial symptoms of dementia (BPSD). After weekend media reports questioning how federal regulators failed to identify the seriousness of the issues at the centre, the Commonwealth on Monday announced a new review into its aged care regulatory processes. Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt said the review would identify any shortcomings in the national regulatory system that meant that the Commonwealth was not aware of the extent of the problems at Oakden.
  Read more here. This story first appeared in Australian Ageing Agenda. [post_title] => Feds launch review into SA mental health facility [post_excerpt] => Chief Psychiatrist compares Oakden to 'a mental institution from the middle of last century'. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => feds-review-sa-mental-health-facility [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-04 15:38:45 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-04 05:38:45 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27014 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27010 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-05-02 12:43:27 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-02 02:43:27 [post_content] =>   By Catriona May, University of Melbourne   The number of GPs in Australia is falling in real terms, as more and more medical graduates choose specialisations over general practice. A major report from the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research has found that, while the number of new GPs in Australia is growing relatively slowly, for every new GP there are nearly ten new specialists. Professor Anthony Scott, who leads the team behind the report, says the trend could prove expensive in the long run, and has implications for patient care. “If we don’t have enough GPs, patients will end up in hospital more than they should,” he says. “If patients can’t get in to see their GP they end up in the emergency department, where they’ll be seen by specialists. “Specialists tend to do more procedures, which means more expense for the public purse. Potentially, patients may also end up receiving unnecessary treatments.” The ANZ-Melbourne Institute Health Sector Report is the first major health check of general practice in Australia. It uses data collected through Medicare and the Institute’s Medicine in Australia: Balancing Employment and Life (MABEL) survey, which has been running for 10 years and includes data from over 10,000 doctors. The results suggest general practice is still relatively unattractive to medical graduates, says Professor Scott. How Australia is losing the health fight “Money does matter,” he says. “Specialists are paid two-to-three times what most GPs are, and that’s the route junior doctors want to take. Often it is those who can’t become specialists that move into general practice. “Unfortunately, it’s seen as second fiddle to specialisation, in terms of reputation and earnings.”   Read more here. This story first appeared in Melbourne University's Pursuit website. [post_title] => Taking the pulse of general practice: GPs face a crisis in morale [post_excerpt] => GP numbers falling in real terms. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 27010 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-02 12:43:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-02 02:43:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27010 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26999 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-05-02 05:00:09 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-01 19:00:09 [post_content] =>

    A report into Australia’s burgeoning medicinal cannabis share market or 'pot stock' boom has highlighted eye-popping share price increases and a rush of investor enthusiasm but cautioned prospective investors to watch and wait. A 2017 Australian Stock Report (ASR) Medical marijuana: Should you buy into these companies?, aimed at share traders and investors, says medicinal cannabis stocks have shot up by more than 130 per cent this year but recommends restraint due to the “relative infancy of medical marijuana on the ASX”. Millions of dollars have poured into the fledgling industry since it became legal to cultivate, produce and manufacture medicinal cannabis products in Australia on October 30 last year. So far, it can only be used for treating a fairly narrow range of conditions such as severe epilepsy, chronic pain, HIV and chemo-induced nausea. Investors and speculators are always looking for the next big thing and they seem to have found it in medicinal cannabis as they’ve watched stocks climb and interest explode.   But the ASR warns that medicinal cannabis related stocks could fail to translate capital investments into sustainable profits and that management teams are likely to be inexperienced when dealing with the regulations and consumer demands of an emerging industry. “This is likely to bring management mistakes as they anticipate supply and demand growth which may or may not occur, leading to inventory disruptions and unanticipated cost,” The ASR says. New industry players have entered the market as barriers have fallen but this can lead to industry fragmentation and spell lower investment returns. Companies that have recently listed on the ASX include The Hydroponics Company (THC) in Sydney; AusCann; Zelda Therapeutics; MMJ Phytotech Ltd; Perth company MGC Pharma; Creso Pharma and International Cannabis Corp. “The overall industry appears to have a bright future with growing evidence pointing to the medical attributes of using marijuana,” said the ASR. “Despite this growing demand we think the Australian listed entities are too immature at this stage to be considered as a financial investment and we prefer to watch from the side lines to determine which if any can transform into making positive cash flows,” the report concludes. “Sorry to dampen your enthusiasm but these listed entities are also thinly traded, meaning there is not much stock available to buy or sell. Thinly traded stocks are hard to move in and out of, prices get pushed up as investors secure stock but also drop a lot faster when investors decide to exit.” The ASR advises investors to take the time to understand a company’s financials and its products before investing. Industry expert Rhys Cohen has welcomed the growing number of medicinal cannabis companies listing on the ASX but he said we should not lose sight of what is at stake for patients.   “There’s a bit too much hype around the financialisation of this industry that may not be best for the industry or patients,” Mr Cohen said. “I don’t think anyone is at fault. People are really excited about this – there are a lot of reasons to be excited and I’m not trying to put down people who invest in pot stocks - but it’s distracting people from the realities of the industry, like expanding patient access and investing more in medical research and education.” While floating companies was a good way for companies to access capital funding he said that some of the hype around pot stock deals had drawn people’s attention from what was really important: the long-term viability of the industry and the well-being of patients. The two main barriers to industry growth were patient access and domestic drug approval. To be prescribed medicinal cannabis, patients must first visit their medical practitioner who must then get approval from the state or territory health department and the federal health department to import the drug before they can access it. “People are really frustrated because they’ve been told it’s legal and available but actually it’s a lot more complex than that. There are a lot of barriers. It requires your medical practitioner to be a real advocate for you.” At present there is no domestic product and companies must undergo an arduous approval process to be listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods, prior to approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. But Mr Cohen, who works for the Australian subsidiary of Israeli medicinal cannabis company Cann10, is doing something about building local capacity in the industry with Australia’s first medical cannabis leadership program, which kicks off in Melbourne later this year. Cann10 will run the 8-week program for 40 participants in partnership with DeakinCo., the commercial arm of Deakin University. The one-night a week course will cover topics including botany and cultivation; clinical science; agriculture and genetics; extraction and legislation; commerce and R&D and regulation and it is aimed at doctors, nurses, pharmacists and scientists, as well as agricultural, biomedical and technological entrepreneurs. Mr Cohen said he hoped the course would be a springboard for people to start new ventures, research programs and businesses and would help entrepreneurs to network. “There’s so much work to be done in learning every part of the medicinal cannabis industry. There are companies that are doing some really exciting, cutting edge medical research and finding new ways of delivering it, such as pills and oils,” he said. “Really we’re just getting started. This industry didn’t exist pre-1992. It’s only really in the last few years that we’ve been able to do real research on the cannabis plant.” He said Australia was ideally placed to develop a globally successful medicinal cannabis industry because once up and running the product would be high quality and rigorously regulated with good access to Asian markets. Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter.    [post_title] => Curb your enthusiasm: The overhyped medicinal cannabis ‘pot stock’ boom [post_excerpt] => Don’t lose sight of patients, says industry expert. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => curb-enthusiasm-overhyped-medicinal-cannabis-pot-stock-boom [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-02 15:04:43 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-02 05:04:43 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26999 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26972 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-27 16:35:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-27 06:35:24 [post_content] => Can Health exorcise the ghosts of failed past government IT projects?     There is a graveyard bigger than Rookwood Cemetery filled with the cadavers of failed government IT projects and haunted by the ghosts of scope creep, budget blowouts, frustrating delays and second rate outcomes. It is a fate the Department of Health (DOH) will be dearly hoping it can avoid as it pushes ahead to completely reimagine its 30-year-old IT payments system, a system which underpins Medicare, aged care and veterans’ payments and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. The project is still in its early stages. The Request for Information (RFI) went out in March this year as the government gathers as many ideas as it can from tech companies of varying sizes to design, deliver and integrate its digital payments platform, a project that will have multiple phases over the next five years, while keeping its procurement options open. Vendors are likely to be salivating at the chance to score a lucrative, long-running contract which has about the highest public profile there is for a federal government IT project, perhaps surpassed only by the Department of Human Services’ $1 billion, seven-year Welfare Payments Infrastructure Transformation (WPIT), due for completion by 2022. But it will not be easy money. It is not a straight forward task to disentangle the current system, which has over 200 applications and 90 databases and supports more than 600 million payments worth approximately $50 billion every year. The Health Department cannot afford to slip up because if it does it will do so very publicly. The multi-million dollar transformation is an endeavour that will affect around 99 per cent of Australians who use the digital payments platform in one way or another. CEO of business management company Holocentric, Bruce Nixon, who has worked with government clients such as the ATO, NSW Transport Management Centre, Sydney Water and IP Australia, says now is the right time to do it, before the labyrinthine system gets even more complicated. “It’s pretty exciting and it is long overdue. It’s a good time to be doing it with new technology available,” Mr Nixon says. “It is very difficult to integrate everything into the application so there are more and more layers on top and they become more and more complex and unwieldy. “There does come a time where it makes sense to overhaul the system and replace it with something more modern that allows changes.” Time is also limited so DOH has little choice but to act. Gary Sterrenberg, CIO of the Department of Human Services, which manages health payments for DOH, has said in the past that the current system has only about three years left before it is totally cactus. There is no doubt that DOH needs to get on with it but it needs to do it well.  Critical to the project’s success, says Mr Nixon, is building expertise and loyalty in-house, rather than shifting the burden and responsibility onto systems integrators, although he says external contractors will be needed and they will bring in fresh ideas. “You should bet on your own people. Open their knowledge. Bring them into the project as early as possible and keep them involved all the way through,” he says. “Be upfront about how it’s going to work in the future, the ramifications. It de-risks the project.” Doing this helps prevent cost overruns and scope creep, as well as skilling up staff, and ensures that the people who know and understand the processes the system is built for are more involved in the project. It makes it more likely that the system can incorporate any necessary changes to payments further down the track too. “There are always going to be policy changes and political influences. Transformation is ongoing and it is hard to change if you don’t have in-house skills and knowledge,” Mr Nixon says. It is the people at the coalface processing payments - not systems integrators - who have this knowledge. “You need to leverage these skills and engage these staff in the process, rather than relying on systems integrators,” he adds. Integrating the technical into the operational demands a thorough knowledge of current processes and assessing desirable outcomes, along with building in the flexibility to adjust systems to reflect future changes. It requires drilling down and looking at how payments are made, defining the tasks workers must do, the rules and obligations they are working under, and thinking about how these integrate into the IT system. Mr Nixon says it is important to examine what can be done better and the expectations Australians have of the system, for example, of being able to make mobile payments. “The Department should make sure it takes control of the whole transformation initiative. This is a very complex system that has been around for a long time with a huge amount of transactions that are very important to get right. “You need to start change management from the early days, not at the end, identify current processes, system capabilities and your future vision." He suggests building a model to simulate the processes and how things will work, “sort of like a business GPS”. Mr Nixon says there are lessons to be learned from other IT disasters, whether from Australia or overseas, cautionary tales worth heeding by governments before they blow billions and incur the wrath of ordinary Australians when the systems they rely upon seize up. “It’s worth being wary of past failures,” he says. Probably one of the most spectacular domestic IT failures occurred when Queensland Health set out to replace its ailing payroll system in 2006. When the system eventually went live in 2010 thousands of workers were underpaid, overpaid or not paid at all and Queensland taxpayers were left with a $1.2 billion bill for a project that was initially supposed to be a $6 million contract. The meltdown was primarily due to the organisation’s failure to clearly set out its business requirements or to spell out how it should be delivered and what outcomes were expected. Unrealistic deadlines exacerbated the sloppy planning. All this set the scene for massive scope creep and proved to be a headache for contractor IBM, which had to deal with multiple requests for changes. Another epic fail was the Victorian MyKi public transport smartcard, where costs ballooned to $1.5 billion and dragged on an extra seven years, taking nine years instead of two. The ensuing storm of complaints from the public over charges and refunds only amplified the damage done. The then Victorian Labor government underestimated the project’s complexity and failed to monitor the contract properly. DOH will be fervently praying that it does not enter the annals of similarly disastrous IT projects and instead gets it right.  [post_title] => Health confronts ghosts of failed govt IT projects in Medicare payments rebuild [post_excerpt] => Engage staff early, integrate process with systems. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => health-confronts-ghosts-government-projects-medicare-payments-rebuild [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-28 11:44:35 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-28 01:44:35 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26972 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26953 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-21 10:32:59 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-21 00:32:59 [post_content] =>   A scene from the new smartphone app Magical Park.   Local councils in Australia and New Zealand and an NZ games developer have hit upon a brilliant way to use mobile phones to draw children to play in urban parks again. A new free smartphone app has unleashed the augmented reality game Magical Park, targeted at kids aged six to 11, which encourages children and their families to explore a magical fantasy world in their local park. In the game children can interact with fairies, dragons, kittens, dinosaurs and aliens and complete missions, like finding dinosaur eggs, using their phone or tablet camera. The game is positioned in a selected large, flat park space in the shape of a virtual circle, which holds the game content kids can play. The idea was born during last month’s Parks Week celebrations, where 47 Australian councils and 19 NZ councils put their heads together to find a way to kick kids off the sofa and into the great outdoors, interacting with their families at the same time. The project is a partnership between The Parks and Leisure Australia, the New Zealand Recreation Association and Kiwi game developer Geo AR Games. Magical Park attracted over 24,000 park visitors during Parks Week, with an average of 1069 number of game sessions played per day and participants running an average of 1.45km per game. Families across Australia and New Zealand spent more than 1,200 hours playing Magical Park together. Councils pay a subscription fee for the app, which is geo-located to a specific park. The app will only open in a designated park area. The families find out about the app via the council or through signs put up in the park by their council. The hotspots for gaming activity were Heywood Park in Unley, Perth; the Wilson Botanic Garden in the City of Casey, Melbourne and Westward Park in Clarence Valley Council in NSW. Teresa Turner, New Plymouth District Council’s Recreation and Culture Manager, praised the app. “I think what really appealed was that families could do this together – parents and kids both could hunt for dinosaurs and fairies and swap stories about their experiences after.” GEO AR Games CEO Melanie Langlotz said: “Augmented reality is a powerful tool to get kids engaged and we have had a lot of queries from schools, who would like us to develop educational content. “We have another product on our road map, which will eventually allow kids to upload their own 3D models and build their own worlds and games to share with their friends in their local park.” Brian Eales, Principal from the Clive Primary School in New Zealand voted the trial a success. “Magical Park opens up a whole new dimension for children linking the engaging world of devices and the great outdoors. “It allows for the creative use of devices and mathematical concepts while maintaining physical activity. It can strengthen the tuakana teina relationship when older students work with young students.”     Sue Wilson, Assistant Principal from the Pomaria Primary School in Henderson, Auckland agreed it had had a positive effect on children’s learning, increasing in both writing and oral language skills. While some councils are looking at bringing Magical Park back for the school holidays, permanent Magical Parks are set up in Heywood Park in the City of Unley and Rhodes Park in Kwinana. Magical Park is the second augmented reality app from Geo AR Games. The company also developed Sharks in the Park, which brought an underwater world to kids in parks across New Zealand in 2016. For more information visit www.magicalpark.net Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter.         [post_title] => Move over Pokemon, new app draws kids to urban parks [post_excerpt] => Local councils use Magical Park. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26953 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-21 11:51:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-21 01:51:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26953 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26860 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-10 16:51:12 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-10 06:51:12 [post_content] => Commonwealth Ombudsman investigation into the Centrelink Robodebt fiasco has found the Department of Human Services (DHS) guilty of poor service delivery and inadequate planning but it has stopped short of condemning the automated debt collection push, saying it was no more inaccurate or unfair than the manual process. Acting Commonwealth Ombudsman Richard Glenn said that the online compliance intervention (OCI), which DHS launched in July 2016 and was expected to clawback up to $4 billion, could have been delivered and planned for better but that it was not fundamentally flawed. The OCI matched Tax Office employment data with Centrelink data and sent debt notices out when discrepancies were flagged.  What went wrong The Ombudsman’s report said poor service delivery was ‘a recurring theme’ in many complaints he had received. “Customers had problems getting a clear explanation about the debt decision and the reasoning behind it,” Mr Glenn said in the report. He noted that the compliance helpline number was not included on the initial debt letters and was difficult to find online, resulting in  long wait times because customers flooded general customer service lines instead. Once customers were through to a human being the response was not always helpful. “Service centre staff did not always have sufficient knowledge about how the OCI system works, highlighting a deficiency in DHS’ communication and training to staff.” The investigation concluded that DHS should have done better preparation before the scheme was rolled out and expanded, including speaking to staff and Centrelink customers. “The OCI is a complex automated system that was rolled out on a large scale within a relatively short timeframe. There will inevitably be problems with the rollout of a system of this scale," the report said.  “In our view, many of the OCI’s implementation problems could have been mitigated through better project planning and risk management at the outset. This includes more rigorous user testing with customers and service delivery staff, a more incremental rollout, and better communication to staff and stakeholders.” Mr Glenn said DHS’ did not consult all the relevant external stakeholders during key project planning stages and after the full rollout of the OCI, which he said was reflected “by the extent of confusion and inaccuracy in public statements made by key non-government stakeholders, journalists and individuals”. Mr Glenn said there should have been more manual support available to customers when they had questions, once the OCI was in motion, particularly for those most vulnerable. “A key lesson for agencies and policy makers when proposing to rollout large scale measures which require people to engage in a new way with new digital channels, is for agencies to engage with stakeholders and provide resources for adequate manual support during transition periods.  “Good public administration requires a transparent and open decision making process that clearly sets out the issues the person needs to address to challenge a decision and the findings of fact on which the decision is based. This principle continues to apply when decision making is automated.” The Ombudsman was also squeamish about the DHS automatically charging a ten per cent debt recovery fee to customers who had a debt and did not have a reasonable excuse for it. While acknowledging this practice was legal, Mr Glenn raised concerns for those customers who may not have had an adequate opportunity to provide a reasonable excuse, for example if they did not receive the initial letter, or did not understand the connection between having reasonable excuse and being charged a recovery fee. DHS no longer applies the fee automatically where there is no contact from the customer, or the customer says personal factors affected them and the fee is suspended while a review is under way. Letters are now sent by registered post. “[DHS] now provides clearer information and further invitation to provide a reasonable excuse in debt notification letters. We have recommended that, in certain cases, DHS review those debts where the recovery fee was previously applied," the report added.  But although the Ombudsman said the process could have been easier to navigate, more transparent and decisions made easier to challenge he did not attack the reasoning behind the program. Mr Glenn said that although one-fifth of Centrelink Robodebts were later challenged successfully by clients after they supplied extra information, this should not be called an ‘error rate’. He said this figure was consistent with that associated with manual debt investigation and the data matching process was not at fault. Neither did he criticise the ATO practice of averaging income out over a person’s employment period, which could result in some people’s income being overstated and debt notices being issue by Centrelink, although he said this should be explained to Centrelink customers.  “We are also satisfied that if the customer can collect their employment income information and enter it properly into the system, or provide it to DHS to enter, the OCI can accurately calculate the debt. “After examination of the business rules underpinning the system, we are satisfied the debts raised by the OCI are accurate, based on the information which is available to DHS at the time the decision is made.” [post_title] => Centrelink Robodebt: Human Services off the hook? [post_excerpt] => But Commonwealth Ombudsman’s report cites poor service delivery. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26860 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-10 16:51:12 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-10 06:51:12 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26860 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 14 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27192 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-05-23 12:20:08 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-23 02:20:08 [post_content] =>   The federal government’s troubled myGov website has had a digital makeover to make it more intuitive to navigate, nicer to look at and easier to access using mobile phones or tablets. The overhaul was made more pressing by the large jump in traffic to the government services portal over the last two years. The federal government said that myGov had 10 million users and dealt with more than 242,000 logins every day: twice the number of logins from just two years’ ago. It is a pivotal website that millions of Australian must interact with daily, dealing as it does with a huge range of services. MyGov was launched in 2013 to provide a single access point for ten different agencies providing services including Medicare, tax, Centrelink, the National Disability Insurance Scheme and My Health Record. The government has recognised that any failure of myGov or rising customer frustration with the system can be a very public and vocal affair. Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation Angus Taylor said in March this year: “The public will ultimately judge us when they go on to the myGov website, when they pay their tax or ask for a refund, when they come through immigration, when they are engaging with the industry portfolio as a small business, they will judge us on how that goes. “They’ll accept that there are speed humps along the way. But they will be unforgiving if that experience doesn’t continually improve.” The changes were in response to ‘hundreds of hours of user research’ which revealed common complaints about the website, including the difficult language used, confusing instructions and dumping large swathes of information on users.   People also complained about how often they were locked out of their accounts and the difficulty in getting these unlocked. The joint statement by Mr Taylor and Human Services Minister Alan Tudge about the myGov revamp said this problem had been addressed to make signing in easier and to allow users to unlock their own accounts once they had been suspended.  They claimed the changes had resulted in incorrect logins being reduced by 37 per cent. Mr Taylor said: “We listened and we got it. The new look myGov also demonstrates how the DTA can partner with other agencies and departments to transfer skills and transform delivery.” The sign-in process had already been tinkered with over the past year to show users passwords as they typed them (to cut down on login failures and account suspensions) and allowing people to use email or mobile numbers instead of just alphanumeric usernames. Mr Tudge said the government had incorporated user feedback and collaborated with other departments to fast-racked changes. “Our investment in myGov is transforming the way people do business with government - making life easier for 10 million Australians,” Mr Tudge said. “In response to user feedback, we’ve also made it easier for users to find and access the services they need.” The rollout, which occurred over the weekend, was a joint project between the Department of Human Services and the Digital Transformation Agency and the Australian Tax Office. The government said the Discovery and Alpha phases were completed by the Digital Transformation Agency while the prototype stage and the beta product were a partnership between the ATO and DHS. [post_title] => MyGov: “we listened and we got it” says minister after digital makeover [post_excerpt] => Users double over two years. 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