Social Welfare denies $100m system is headed for scrap heap

The rumoured planned replacement of the Department of Social Welfare’s $100 million SWIFTT (Social Welfare Information for Tomorrow Today) computing system has been denied by DSW IT co-ordinator Neil Miranda.

Persistent rumours have been circulating among public service sources that the system, which holds records on 850,000 beneficiaries, will be scrapped. While Miranda dismisses this suggestion, he admits SWIFTT has become inflexible and will need to be changed. However, he says this has always been common knowledge and was revealed when DSW released its information systems strategic plan (ISSP) in 1994.

"The ISSP is quite clear that through the next few years there is going to be a change from SWIFTT to an open systems platform. The planning for this started about this time last year. Will the mainframe die? Yes, a lot of the functionality will be provided in a different way.

"SWIFTT is great but it doesn't give the flexibility we now require. We're doing whatever has to be done to make it more flexible - a lot of rewrite, a lot of additional code. We're not going to throw SWIFTT out, we're going to take it to another dimension We are also going to open systems completely. Our platforms of the future are Unix in an Oracle environment. Every new system we've put in place in the last one-and-a-half years has been part of that."

Despite Miranda's denial, sources say the department will go to tender in four to six weeks for a software development partner to eventually replace SWIFTT

SWIFTT, which took five years to design and went live in 1993, won a gold award two years ago at the Government Technology Productivity Awards in Australia.

It's single database is an online processing facility that holds the case files of 850,000 New Zealanders receiving income support through benefits and pensions. It replaced eight different databases and batch processing facilities, which were deemed to be costly, ineffective and time-wasting.

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