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for those who would make a difference

Governments need to think about productivity in society-wide terms, not just in terms of the public service

There’s been enormous coverage of the new Centrelink debt letters process, whereby the Department of Human Services has automated the process of matching data from the ATO and Centrelink to try to find overpayments (but not underpayments) in welfare benefits to Australia.

The automation has involved removing human quality assurance steps, which has led to the number of debt checking letters growing from 20,000 per year to 20,000 per week. Over 260,000 of these letters have been sent out to-date.

Now automated data-matching can be a fantastic thing when used well. It can reduce duplication in identification processes, find patterns and trends that inform polices and service delivery, and even identify inaccurate payments – as was the intention with this approach.

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