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One year in: Sterrenberg offers up progress report on $570 m DHS integration

by Paris Cowan •
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The Department of Human Service’s Chief Information Officer Gary Sterrenberg has, in his own understated way, provided delegates at Canberra’s Technology in Government Summit an insight into the logistics behind the ICT integration of some of the Federal Government’s largest agencies.

On 1 July 2011 Centrelink, Medicare and the Department of Human Services, including the Child Support Agency, were legally merged into what Sterrenberg conceded is “a fairly large organisation” with more than 50,000 desktops, 14 data centres, 4 petabytes of data, 5,300 applications and the ability to process 20 million transactions annually.

Just over a year into the ICT integration of the DHS agencies, the plan for which has tens of thousands of line items, Sterrenberg says that he and his team have “quite a lot on the go”.

“As a program we are still in our infancy given that we only started in July 2011.

“When I look at the horizon going forwards I think that most of the major programs, - desktop, telecoms etc – will be over the hump in terms of deployment by July next year,” he said.

On the agenda at the moment is Medicare’s transition into its new single data centre at Deakin, part of a strategy to consolidate all of the Department’s data centres into just two facilities by March 2013.

“We are currently down to four data centres I believe.

“The Hume Data Centre is producing significant savings. Just to give you an example the electricity savings for DHS per year is $5 million. The carbon footprint has been reduced by at least 60 per cent,” he said.

Sterrenberg is also most of the way through the transition in-house of infrastructure formerly outsourced to IBM at Medicare and Hewlett-Packard at Child Support.

The Department officially took over the services that were previously covered by Hewlett-Packard on 30 June 2012 and will begin moving mainframe infrastructure into the Hume Data Centre on 2 September, followed by the midrange and desktop towers.

It plans to take over the $614.2 million worth of services provided by IBM to Medicare by the end of 2012.

The transition of all DHS staff to a common Microsoft-based email platform, away from Lotus Notes, is also due for this date.

The Department will also release what Sterrenberg describes as “a quartet of mobile apps “ in the coming months, starting with Express Plus Students which was launched last week and going on to service payments to families, disability pensioners and job seekers as well.

“Express Plus Students alone is expected to generate a saving of $3 million a year because it takes the traffic out of the call centre and the face-to-face channels,” he said.

The DHS received nearly $570 million in the 2011-12 Budget to roll-out the ICT integration required to consolidate and reform the operations of the three agencies.

Sterrenberg took up the role of CIO at DHS in October 2011 following the retirement of John Wadeson.

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