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Calls for changes to 'disappointing' Centrelink myGov system: 'Despair'

·2-min read
Centrelink sign and woman on myGov site
If elected, Labor will conduct a user audit of myGov, the online platform for accessing Centrelink services. (Source: Getty)

The myGov portal for accessing Centrelink services online has fallen well behind user expectations, according to a former architect of the digital platform.

Former Australian Government chief information officer Glenn Archer, who was instrumental in the launch of the platform a decade ago, told InnovationAus he felt “despair” over the lack of progress on the platform.

This follows Labor’s pledge to conduct a user audit of myGov if elected, with the portal “not up to scratch” in Labor leader Anthony Albanese’s view.

“Millions of Australians interact with myGov everyday and rely on it to provide essential services,” Albanese said.

“It’s not up to scratch, and Australians deserve better. That’s why we will review myGov, and make improvements where necessary.”

Labor noted that while myGov has improved over the years, there have been “blindspots and disappointments”.

The Opposition pointed to problematic outages, including when myGov crashed in March 2020 when the pandemic prompted higher-than-usual traffic.

“None of us should forget the March 2020 crash when there was a surge in demand, and we had Stuart Robert, the disgraced Minister for Government Services, blame invisible hackers,” Shadow Minister for Government Services Bill Shorten said last weekend.

“And then he was found out - it wasn't the hackers, it's just that the Government didn't prepare.”

The site also crashed in July 2019, leaving many people fuming because they were unable to lodge their tax return.

Labor has also pledged to stop closing Centrelink shopfronts and hire an additional 200 new Services Australia workers.

“This Government has a terrible record on service delivery – Labor will change that,” Shorten said.

If elected, an Albanese government would also launch a Royal Commission into the Robodebt scandal, which saw the Government unlawfully raise $1.73 billion in debts based on a flawed income-averaging metric.

So, what’s gone so wrong with myGov?

According to Archer, who was involved with myGov in the early days, the Government had failed to keep improving the platform over the years.

He pointed to poor integration with other government services, meaning that it’s not a smooth transition to hop from the tax office services to Medicare and so forth, as well as other user experience faults.

Archer said part of the problem was relying on private companies to improve the platform, and not having the right skills inside the public sector to keep the platform running smoothly.

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