Australian Department of Human Services Benefits from Model 204 Technology
DHS is an Australian government services organization headquartered in Canberra. DHS is responsible for the social security entitlements of approximately seven million people in Australia at any given time.
DHS employs more than 20,000 staff in over 320 locations across Australia and is structured around three organizational components: a National Administration located in Canberra; 16 area offices; and an Australia-wide network of over 290 full-time service delivery units in the form of Regional Offices, DHS Offices, District Offices, and TeleService Centers. The agency also interfaces with other government organizations, agencies, financial and other institutions, and community organizations. The scope and scale of the agency's services are tremendous. DHS annually provides approximately $40 billion in benefits for the retired, unemployed, students, the sick, and families on low incomes.
Managing this vast amount of financial and personnel data is an enormous task. Since 1983, DHS has been using Model 204 high-performance database technology to do just that. DHS chose Model 204 after an exhaustive search for a high-performance, high-capacity database management system that was also extremely flexible.
Due to the involved nature of government services, DHS's data management requirements were quite complex. The first consideration was the sheer capacity of the system. DHS also needed the ability to easily modify applications and data housed in the system. Another requirement was the need for information in real-time. And because DHS's offices were spread across an entire continent, the organization required decentralized processing of centrally controlled data.
The Model 204 system, implemented enterprise-wide, has met DHS's complex requirements and provided integrated information management capabilities throughout the entire organization, across an entire continent.
At the heart of DHS's IT infrastructure is a cluster of five IBM mainframes located in Canberra and Sydney. Four mainframes are used for production and one for development and testing. These clusters consist of 45 processors with 18 gigabytes of memory. The mainframes are connected to over 3.5 terabytes of disk storage. Model 204 processes more than nine million transactions each day from DHS regional offices. On average, approximately 12,000 users at DHS are logged on to the mainframes simultaneously and the total peak throughput rate is at 320 transactions per second.
Through its use of Model 204, DHS has been able to significantly improve its IT efficiency and reduce expenditures for IT, staffing, and associated program costs. In evidence of this, Fujitsu Consulting conducted a three-month study of the value of DHS's IT investment versus the actual costs spent over the last 13 years.
"The results of the study indicated that a total of $2 billion was spent realizing $6.5 billion in cost savings through improved efficiencies at DHS," notes Charlie Rutten, Assistant Secretary at DHS's Applications Services Division. "We certainly couldn't have achieved these results without Model 204. If our original processes had been in place, the current staffing of 24,000 would escalate to over 61,000, alternatively our program costs would have increased by $28 billion."
Model 204 will play a significant role in the future growth of the agency. DHS has recently expanded and is now responsible for operations and support for the functions of the Department of Employment, Education, Training, and Youth Affairs (DEETYA), including the Office of Student Assistance and Job Placement for the Unemployed. This expansion has resulted in the addition of 4,000 more staff.
The real benefit provided by this technology lies in the empowerment of DHS's benefit recipients. In the coming millennium, individuals served by the agency will take on greater responsibility for meeting their own needs in terms of job placement, training, unemployment, sickness, and retirement benefits. These individuals will now play a critical role in the dynamics of the service provided, and their involvement, along with Model 204 data management capabilities, will be an integral part of DHS's continued success.