Job well done: Auditor gives DEEWR's IT system a pat on the back

After a troubled start, the Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations It system, EA3000, has been lauded by the Australian National Audit Office.

Employment Assistant 3000, the IT system developed by the Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations, has been given a resounding thumbs up in a recent audit by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO).

ANAO's audit report identifies the IT system as a key component in DEEWR's "successful approach" to administering its eleven-year-old Job Network Program, which is designed to provide outcome payments to Job Network Members (JNMs).

JNMs are organisations contracted by the department to help the country's longer-term unemployed find sustainable employment or education.

The audit report, released last week, concluded DEEWR has administered this program effectively by using the EA3000 system to successfully manage the operation of Job Network services.

According to the report, the EA3000 is used by DEEWR to "capture data in relation to each job-seeker's progression through the Active Participation Model Continuum", which is a scale used to determine the level of support job-seekers require from their JNMs, based on the length of time they have remained unemployed.

The IT system also provides the means for JNMs to lodge payment claims, while ensuring that "outcome payment amounts are made in accordance with contractual obligations".

Approximately 92% of the annual 267,000 outcome claims are currently lodged through the EA3000 system, while the remaining 8% fall into the category of "special claims" which, at the moment, must be lodged manually.

Because this manual process represents "a significant work load for both JNMs and DEEWR contract managers", ANAO's report recommended that, should the number of special claims lodged each year begin to increase, the EA3000 system could be further developed with the ability to "process routine non-activity tested claims in a standard manner".

Nevertheless, the IT system received a big tick across the board after its review, which included such audit criteria as "contract assurance", "performance information" and "ensuring outcome payments".

Although the EA3000 has been painted in a positive light, it has not always been the case. When it was first introduced in July 2003, it copped a barrage of complaints from users who complained of being forced to spend millions to comply with the new system, and for its slow response times.