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DHS urged to repair child support IT system

DHS urged to repair child support IT system

Independent review calls for broader transformation of service delivery

Credit: Dreamstime

The Department of Human Services (DHS) has been urged to take “immediate” action to upgrade its Child Services payment systems after an independent review found it unfit for purpose.

The department had spent more than $102 million on moving its legacy ‘Cuba’ child support system to a 'Pluto' front-end SAP platform since 2013.

However, an independent review conducted by Deloitte over the past year found the current system was unable “to meet the needs of the business”, saying there was a “critical need to mobilise the programme” to fix "performance and functional" challenges.

Originally started in 2013, the Child Support System Replacement Programme – later renamed the Redesign Programme – was intended to replace Cuba with an end-to-end solution to support 3,000 delivery staff and facilitates the collection and disbursement of $1.5 billion worth of child support payments.

As such, the DHS implemented Pluto, a solution built using SAP CRM and ERP, with an underlying core functionality provided by Cuba.

However, Deloitte’s report claimed staff were being forced to alternate between the two systems “creating inefficiencies in day-to-day operations which has impacted operations”.

“While the Pluto solution delivers improvements to the look and feel of the solution and is generally easier to learn for new staff, there are still significant functional gaps and performance challenges in the current implementation,” the report said.

“As a result, there is a need to not simply replace Cuba with a like for like solution, but for a broader transformation of how services are delivered.”

Although the report claimed Pluto “can be made fit for purpose”, it argued this will “require significant further investment”.

Next steps 

In the short-term, the DHS was urged to put its house in order by “Immediately mobilis[ing] teams to enhance the current solution” for both the staff and for managing data across two systems.

Until a long-term solution is chosen, Deloitte recommended that only staff within the New Customers divisions use Pluto, while all other areas revert to Cuba, rather than continuing to flit between two systems.

Next steps include establishing a multi-disciplinary team to develop a business case for broader transformation.

As a “preferred” option, Deloitte suggested the DHS continue to develop Pluto as an end-to-end SAP solution or use a hybrid Pluto-Cuba solution with code modernisation.

“Given the challenges faced with the current Cuba back-end, modernisation of the underlying code should be considered as an immediate next step, while working to move forward with the Pluto (SAP) solution as quickly as possible to alleviate pressure on service delivery staff,” the report said.

The report argued against migrating to a SAP S4HANA, as well as re-creating an entire system from scratch and rolling entirely back to Cuba.

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Tags SAPDeloitteDHSDepartment of Human ServicesCubaPlutoChild SupportChild Services payment

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