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Impact of NDIS IT system failures ‘unacceptable’

The agency tasked with implementing the National Disability Insurance Scheme “ran out of time” to successfully launch the roll out of the $22 billion program on its due date, with a report casting doubt on its ability to manage the scheme designed to help more than 400,000 Australians with disability.

Rachel Browne has the story for The Sydney Morning Herald.

A report into the National Disability Insurance Agency’s new computer system, designed ahead of the July 1 launch, found there was not one catastrophic event which led to its failure but a “series of compounding issues”.

It also found the agency’s transition to the new system was “inadequate from the outset” and it was forced to rely on outside help to fix the problem which left people with disability and organisations which support them in limbo.

The report by PwC was ordered by the Federal Government following widespread disruption to the full NDIS roll out throughout July and August.

A communique from a meeting of state and territory ministers at the Disability Reform Council on Friday described the impact on people with disability and providers as “unacceptable.”

“Although the Council acknowledged that issues will arise with a major reform that has the size and complexity of the NDIS, there was unanimous agreement that the impact and scale of the recent issues was unacceptable for NDIS participants, their families and carers, and providers,” the communique read.

Some service providers were pushed to the brink of bankruptcy by the payment blockage, with a group of Hunter-based organisations threatening a class action against the Federal Government.

The IT problems and staff shortages in the NDIA have resulted in just 970 care plans being approved in the past two months, compared with a goal of 20,000.

The IT system was designed “in house” by the Department of Human Services.

One hundred extra staff have been transferred to the NDIA from the Department of Human Services and the Department of Social Services to help clear the backlog.

The glitch has left the NDIA well behind its target of having 20,226 participants in the scheme by the end of September.

NSW Disability Services Minister John Ajaka acknowledged the flawed IT system in a budget estimates hearing at State Parliament this week, noting that the problem had been fixed and payments were now flowing.

ministerporterMinister for Social Services, Christian Porter (pictured) issued a statement about the situation: “In the National Disability Insurance Scheme’s first month of transition from trial to full scheme, the NDIA experienced difficulty in implementing the new NDIS MyPlace payment portal.”

“As a result there were disruptions and delays in payments being made to a group of providers and participants through the payment portal.

“I have been working closely with the NDIA, and now the successful payments to providers and participants have increased from around 70 per cent to a 96 per cent success rate.

” Once satisfied the main technical issues had been addressed, the Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services and I ordered an urgent independent review into the MyPlace portal,” he said.

This review began on 5 August and is expected to be completed and provided to the Minister shortly.

“Based on initial advice from PwC, as well as a short-lived technical issue experienced by bulk service providers, there was also an issue around the adequacy of information provided to users of the payment portal which led to errors in inputting necessary information. That situation is improving rapidly and significantly,” Minister Porter said.

Currently more than 15,000 people have been deemed eligible for the scheme since 1 July 2016, which is more than 78 per cent of the bilateral target for the first quarter of transition. More than 5,000 of those people have commenced the planning process or had their plan approved.

The Minister has requested the NDIA Board Chair to take action to resolve outstanding issues around information to portal users and ensure that transitional plan approval remains on target in the first two quarters of transition. Specifically he asked the NDIA take some immediate actions prior to the PWC report being finalised, including to:

  • Establish an NDIS Transition Management Team to address all outstanding portal issues, plan approval targets and communication with the sector;
    Appoint a Chief Operating Officer to oversee all of the NDIA’s operational matters during the transition to full scheme roll out;
  •  Ensure more robust reporting is undertaken on key metrics around portal issue resolution and plan approval rates; and
  • Establish stronger information sharing arrangements between the NDIA, DSS and DHS.
    In cooperation with the Minister for Human Services, we have also ensured more than 100 additional staff from the Departments of Social Services and Human Services have been provided to the NDIA to implement these action

FULL STORY: Review into NDIS IT system finds major flaws (The Sydney Morning Herald)

MEDIA RELEASE: Media Statement from Minister Porter – NDIS MyPlace portal

RELATED STORY: New disability authority overwhelmed by MyPlace roll out The Mandarin

MAIN IMAGE: People with disability have been left without services after a computer problem delayed payments (SMH)

SMALL IMAGE: Christian Porter (www.dss.gov.au)