back to article Centrelink 'big data' system built without consulting taxman

When Australia's Department of Human services decided to create its now-notorious “robo-debt” system, it did so without consulting one of its major data sources, the Australian Tax Office. The Office's deputy commissioner in charge of its “Smarter Data” program, Greg Williams, told a Senate Committee looking into the disaster …

  1. Winkypop Silver badge

    I'm sure I've worked with some of those people before....

    ....I went thru a very similar 'payroll' project that was awash with dangers and mishandled errors.

    In the end, experienced staff were told, despite our warnings and resolute protestations about poor quality data that; "it was not that kind of a system".

    Never mind the quality, feel the width.

  2. Adam 1 Silver badge

    Tudge has got to go. As outrageous as the design flaws with the system are, the real shocking thing is that they haven't paused the automation whilst they sort it out. I am in the fortunate position to have had very little to do with them, but what I did see was an organisation that was unable to arrange for a human to assist with an enquiry. Everything was about being redirected to their online portal seemingly developed by Satan himself that when you followed those instructions then told you that you needed to go in person.

    The sooner they understand that half their clients are only there because of poor and immoral decisions made in boardrooms half a world away and not because of laziness (some are of course), the sooner they can start treating people with respect they deserve as humans.

  3. Rattus Rattus

    "Working as intended"

    I believe them, I am quite sure the system WAS in fact "working as intended". They key is that the "intention" wasn't to treat the Department's customers fairly or even to locate welfare cheats. It was to terrify the poor and impress upon them just how powerless they are, as well as to claw as much money as could be gotten away with out of their bank accounts, in keeping with the Coalition's policy of riding upon the backs of the poor.

  4. chuckm

    Not data matching

    Data matching is a powerful tool in all sorts of analytics, and this area is no exception. However, what the government has done--apparently wilfully, in the full knowledge that it was wrong--isn't data matching, it's making shit up and 'matching' it to another set of data that doesn't relate.

    Since I used to raise social security overpayments myself for a living, I know exactly how this is supposed to work, and how you can effectively use ATO data and/or payroll records for the purpose, This system doesn't do it or anything close.

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