‘Series of compounding issues’ led to NDIS IT failure

PwC report cites inadequate change management

The Census is not the only high-profile 2016 government IT failure to have been caused by a confluence of events. A PricewaterhouseCoopers review has concluded that the root cause of a problem with the National Disability Insurance Scheme’s payment portal was “not a single catastrophic event, but rather a series of compounding issues.”

In particular, the review highlighted an inadequate change management plan, which “led to insufficient preparation, stakeholder needs identified too late, and ineffective implementation of change activities.”

The government commissioned the PwC review of the NDIS MyPlace Portal implementation after some participants went unpaid due to problems with the system. The government has said that the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) had difficulty implementing the payment portal as the NDIS trial ended and the transition to the fully fledged scheme begun on 1 July.

“I’ve discussed the findings with my state and territory colleagues, and Governments will be working closely with the NDIA to help the Agency set up the required systems so we don’t encounter similar problems in other areas of the roll out,” social services minister Christian Porter said in a statement.

“The review shows there was no single system failure – rather, the frustrating ICT issues arose from a series of compounding events, linked to deficiencies in the NDIA’s governance, operations, change management and communication.”

“The complexity of the stakeholder landscape, the amount of change leading up to and after the Full Scheme Launch, the low quality and timeliness of data, and the newness (immaturity) of the process all combined to create a critical risk that payments would fail,” the PwC report stated.

Much of the work to implement the MyPlace Portal focussed on the ICT system, with “many business and change management processes being found to be immature, absent and/or late in the implementation”.

According to PwC there was no pre-production testbed set up to trial the user experience of moving to the new platform. In addition, problems surfaced during the migration from the interim Siebel-based NDIS system to an SAP-based system due to stronger controls in the latter around participant and provider payments.

The PwC review stated that the lack of a comprehensive service delivery operating model “has resulted in a lack of clarity regarding business processes, accountabilities and governance across the organisation”.

In addition, ongoing development work has placed a strain on the scheme’s core system. The review warned that the NDIA operating model may be unable to cope with an additional 400,000 participants slated to be brought on board the NDIS by 2019-20.

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