03 April 2019: Commonwealth Ombudsman releases report into the Department of Human Services implementation of recommendations from its report ‘Centrelink’s Automated Debt Raising and Recovery System

The Commonwealth Ombudsman, Michael Manthorpe PSM, has today released a report  into the Department of Human Services and Department of Social Services’ implementation of recommendations made in the Ombudsman’s 2017 report Centrelink’s Automated Debt Raising and Recovery System.

The 2017 report made eight recommendations to improve the usability, transparency and fairness of the online system used to investigate income discrepancies. The department agreed to implement all eight recommendations.

This new investigation considered the extent to which these recommendations had been implemented, and whether the intended outcomes of the recommendations had been achieved.

‘I am pleased that our investigation has found that significant progress has been made on implementing the recommendations. However, I have formed the view that there is scope for further improvement’, Mr Manthorpe said.

‘I have therefore made further recommendations for the Department of Human Services to improve transparency and fairness by improving its communication to customers’.

The report makes four new recommendations, offering specific guidance on ways to ensure customers receive clear information about debts and the potentially adverse consequences of not providing relevant information.

The Department of Human Services has accepted all four of the Ombudsman’s recommendations and said it will work with the Office to implement them. The Department of Social Services also indicated its support for the recommendations.

The Office will monitor the implementation of these new recommendations.