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Australian independent calls on Ombudsman to weigh in on Centrelink debacle

4 January 2017
Asha McLean
ZD Net

As the federal government continues to tout its automated Centrelink debt recovery system as 'working well', independent politician Andrew Wilkie has called on the Commonwealth Ombudsman to investigate the 'flawed' process.

Independent Member for Denison Andrew Wilkie has written to the Commonwealth Ombudsman, asking for an investigation into the Centrelink automated debt recovery system that has seen some letters demanding money repayment sent in error to welfare recipients. 

On Wednesday, the Australian politician called on the coalition to halt the "flawed" debt recovery process, noting he has personally received over a hundred complaints from citizens who have recounted "deeply disturbing" stories about their experience.

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"This crude data-matching process is spitting out numerous incorrect debt notices," Wilkie added. "You don't have to be a genius to tell that taking someone's yearly income and dividing by 26 is not always going to produce accurate results if only because people's circumstances change."

Paul Shetler, former CEO of the federal government's now defunct Digital Transformation Office (DTO), commented on social media Tuesday night that the Centrelink issue is the "result of split between policy, design, and delivery in very deskilled public service".

"I'll have more to say about what must be done to fix this string of IT failure v soon," Shetler said in a tweet.