Annual report 2016 cover

Streamlining processes and systems for delivering transactional services and improving the effectiveness of our front line

A significant proportion of our clients’ transactions with the Ministry are straightforward in nature. We are working hard to make it easier for people to access these services. This will allow our staff to focus on the activities that make a real difference to our clients’ lives and lead to better outcomes for their families and communities. We have introduced simpler and streamlined online processes and are seeing strong uptake of these by our clients.

In 2015/2016 our Service Delivery Contact Centres answered around 7.5 million calls, our Centralised Processing Units completed approximately 7 million transactions, and our frontline staff conducted over 1.7 million face-to-face meetings with clients.

Simplification programme

Our Simplification programme, launched in 2014, is redesigning our transactional services and providing a more client-centric service through digital channels, making it easier for clients to do things for themselves and avoid unnecessary visits to our offices. The programme also streamlines our internal processes and automates transactional activity, which reduces related work effort. These changes also speed up transactions for our clients.

Maximising the use of digital channels for transactions allows us to focus our face-to-face services more on outcome-focused activities. These include helping clients to find employment, addressing housing needs, and supporting clients with particularly complex situations.

This is not about changing people’s entitlements, eligibility, work or social obligations. We continue to encourage, coach and support our clients to build their digital confidence and independence, but we will not deprive any client of financial support because they cannot use digital channels.

During 2015/2016 our improvements to streamline and simplify processes for clients included:

  • implementing MyMSD, a responsive online service and app that allow clients to view and update their own details
  • rolling out the MyStudyLink smartphone app to allow students to update their personal information
  • enhancing voice-enabled technology in our contact centres
  • enabling electronic lodgement of medical certificates
  • eliminating 26 types of unnecessary client letters, resulting in 1.3 million fewer letters sent to clients each year
  • redesigning content on the Work and Income website and at our service centre kiosks, to make finding information easier
  • bringing in the first tranche of business process improvements, including simplifying the authentication of benefit applications.

Improving services to combat fraud and collect debt

In 2015/2016 we launched a Fraud Prevention Strategy to guide our fraud prevention efforts over the next four years across our client groups. The Strategy focuses on how we can make it easier for clients to do the right thing and harder for them to commit benefit fraud.

Inland Revenue Information Sharing (IRIS)

We have improved our information-sharing programme with Inland Revenue so that we can:

  • ensure that clients who are identified as being overpaid have their payments corrected
  • identify overpayments earlier and more efficiently
  • encourage clients to change their behaviour by complying voluntarily with income declaration requirements.

Since its inception in 2013 IRIS has led to:

  • 1,134 successful prosecutions
  • 12,183 benefit cancellations
  • the recovery of $20.9 million in overpaid benefits and allowances.

Optimising debt recovery

We are committed to optimising debt recovery rates and we are encouraging the use of online and other channels to make it easier for clients to repay debt.

During the last year we improved this automated processing by developing and introducing a new dynamic review tool, DART, for completing automated backdated earnings-related reviews of a client’s record.

We have realigned our debt collection systems to ensure that our efforts are focused on higher-value work.

Over the next year, we will trial changes to our business rules, to prioritise the recovery of some types of debt that optimises our recovery rates.

Making provider compliance easier

As part of the Community Investment Strategy, we further simplified compliance requirements for our contracted service providers so they have more time to focus on achieving results. This included reducing overlaps in monitoring processes for Ministry funding and working more collaboratively with providers to identify and manage potential issues early.

This work contributes to the following Ministry outcomes:

  • More people into sustainable work and out of welfare dependency
  • More people are able to participate in and contribute positively to their communities and society
  • Fewer people commit fraud and the system operates with fairness and integrity.

Increasing use of digital channels

We actively promoted our new digital services, and saw a strong response from clients.

By the end of June 2016 over 115,000 clients had registered with MyMSD - up from 30,000 in February 2016.

In June 2016:

  • 24 percent of benefit applications were made online
  • 18 percent of all change in circumstance transactions were completed online (including 37.2 percent of income declarations)
  • 77 percent of all medical certificates were lodged electronically
  • 37 percent of calls were supported with enhanced voice-enabled technology approximately 270,000 calls)
  • 4 percent of appointment-related transactions were completed online.

We are aiming to have 70 percent of key administrative transactions managed through digital channels by 2018.

Our focus over the next year will also be on introducing back-end automation and streamlining business processes to reduce work effort. Making these and similar changes will lower the cost of processing transactions, and will lead to increased accuracy, efficacy and timeliness in processing.

Protecting the fairness and integrity of the welfare system

In 2015/2016, to protect the integrity of the system, our Fraud Services Unit:

  • investigated 8,689 cases of suspected benefit fraud
  • completed 2,839 overpayment cases and prosecuted 598 cases
  • recovered $1.6 million through asset seizures and reparation orders
  • arranged for over 70 percent of people who oweus money due to an overpaid benefit to repay it.