ACC ponders options as project falters

Accident Compensation's choice of "industry-standard packaged software" to provide increased support for its Pathway system has apparently failed to deliver, and the ACC is now investigating other options.

Accident Compensation’s choice of “industry-standard packaged software” to provide increased support for its Pathway system has apparently failed to deliver, and the ACC is now investigating other options.

Last August business technology general manager Henry Carr confirmed that the ACC was exploring four of what he called industry-standard packages, two from Australia, one from the US and one from CSC, the only supplier on the short list which has a presence in New Zealand.

Empower, from South Australia, was chosen, with an implementation date of December 31. The plan was to implement Empower to support claims and payment processes. But Empower’s product is not an industry-standard packaged solution. It is in development at Australian insurance specialist MMI, which last week indicated it was considering delaying the project because of Y2K issues and problems which include scope of functionality and response-time tuning of the client-server environment.

The software is intended, eventually, to be deployed across more than 400 users in Australia and is said to be crucial to Australia’s largest workers’ compensation insurer’s plans to improve internal efficiencies and external service. It apparently didn’t work for ACC, which is now looking at other solutions outside of the original shortlist.

Computerworld posed a number of questions to Carr but he responded, in the main, that matters were commercially confidential. Carr won’t comment on industry suggestions that the ACC has identified another Australian product, PMSC, which recently went live at AMP. Computerworld understands IBM has been asked to give AS/400 pricing and configuration information for the PMSC product.

CSC had offered an AS/400-based solution, which has more than 60% of the US market. However, the ACC is understood to have rejected that because it would have taken six months to implement.

The problem is for the ACC that it is open to commercial competition next July, so whatever it chooses has to happen quickly.

That’s why the RFI for the “packaged” software had a drop-dead date of December 31. ACC will use either Unisys or Comtex — its regular providers — to implement whatever is chosen, which in itself could cause delays if neither party is familiar with the chosen product. Sources say there were marked differences between the RFI and the RFP but Carr maintains the two documents were consistent.

Among the questions posed by Computerworld which Carr wouldn’t answer on the grounds of commercial confidentiality were: Why was Empower chosen when it was not a proved, packaged solution? Had delivery/functionality commitments been made which could not be subsequently met? What were the costs/penalities involved?

We also asked if the budget had blown out in the event of having to replace Empower.

Computerworld understands the cost of buying and implementing a packaged solution would be between $5 million and $10 million.

Pathway, which the solution will support, is a scaled-down version of ACCtion, which attracted Audit Office and Social Services Select Committee attention two years ago.

The committee said after a damning Audit Office computer assurance review, that it believed the substantial variation between the board approval of $19 million and projected cost of completion of ACCtion of more than $100 milion pointed to inadequate reporting and accountability.

Residual IT initiatives from ACCtion were renamed the Pathway project, automating the process of claims registration data.

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