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1.1. The Department is engaged in a continuous Service Delivery Modernisation (SDM) programme, which is delivering a high quality, proactive service to customers. The programme is designed to:

  • Respond to customer expectations for a more modern and efficient service;
  • Give priority to better customer service;
  • Facilitate the meeting of commitments to provide electronic access to public services in the Government's Modernisation Action Plan for the Information Society;
  • Facilitate the integration of public services;
  • Provide for improved efficiency and give better value for money in the use of resources;
  • Improve the working environment for staff.

1.2. SDM is a multi-annual programme of continuous development involving the redesign of back office systems, business processes, procedures and work practices and the introduction of new organisational structures along with the introduction of new technology and the replacement of legacy computer systems. The new ICT systems being delivered as part of this programme are collectively known as the Business Object Model implementation (BOMi). Under the SDM programme, all new development carried out in respect of the Department's strategic systems are on the BOMi.

1.3. SDM is being implemented in a number of self-contained projects, each of which aims to deliver key business benefits, extend the business object model and, where appropriate, strengthen and enhance the underlying technical architecture.

1.4. These developments allow the Department to be more agile in responding to changes in Government policies and customer needs. The aim is to have comprehensive service delivery, based around efficient customer centric transaction processing and integration of services, for the benefit of the customer, while also providing a much-improved working environment for staff.

1.5. It is envisaged that the BOMi will encompass all schemes and services administered by the Department. It should be noted that while the BOMi will be the primary interface to functionality, not all functionality will be bespoke or developed in-house. Some object responsibilities may be discharged by accessing external services hosted by other applications or in packaged solutions. Schemes currently on the BOMi represent about two thirds of the Department's claim load. The BOMi is currently responsible for directly issuing payments to over 2 Million customers amounting to approximately �10 Billion per year.

1.6. The Department has adopted an agile approach to systems development involving practices such as prototyping, test first development, frequent iterations etc. The approach has been very successful to date and it is the Department's intention to continue to refine and formalise the approach in future development projects. Separately from this procurement, the Department has procured expert advice in the areas of business object modelling and agile development. Tenderers admitted to the Framework will be required to work alongside and in conjunction with the providers of these services.

1.7. Projects which involve the development of line of business functionality are regarded primarily as agile business change projects within which the technical element is one of several parallel strands. These projects typically include an organisational change strand which entails the design, development and implementation of new organisational structures and business processes/ procedures designed to maximise customer service and to deliver efficiencies in business.

2.1. Service Delivery Modernisation Programme � Phase 1

The first phase of this programme, which focused on the Child Benefit scheme, commenced in 2001 and was successfully implemented in November 2002. This phase gained international recognition for its improvements in service delivery.

2.2. Service Delivery Modernisation Programme � Phase 2

Phase 2 of the SDM programme commenced in May 2004 and was completed in April 2007 and covered the extension of the SDM programme to State Pension Transition (SPT) and State Pension Contributory (SPC) (previously known as Retirement and Old Age Contributory Pension respectively), Household Benefits, Free Travel, Early Childcare Supplement, Bereavement Grant and Overpayments and Debt Management.

This Phase of the project was delivered in a series of iterative releases as follows:

The first release of this phase of the SDM programme went live on 1 October 2005. This involved the implementation of the Contribution History Object (CHO). The CHO facilitates the electronic consolidation of a customer's full insurance record. This contributed to an improvement in customer service as more complete contribution records, on which their entitlements to contributory payments rely, are more easily accessible.

Release 2 of this phase, encompassing State Pension Transition and State Pension Contributory, was implemented in May 2006. 220,000 existing pensioner customer records were successfully migrated to the BOMi.

Further releases of the BOMi in this phase were implemented in 2006 as follows:

  • Early Childcare Supplement (ECS) in July 2006. Over 270,000 ECS payments were made for the first time on 14 August 2006.
  • Free Travel in July 2006 for SPT/SPC pensioners and new customers not receiving a social welfare payment.
  • Social Welfare Act 2006 changes implemented in September 2006.

Release 4 of Phase 2 was delivered, encompassing the implementation of Bereavement Grant, on to the BOMi in the Sligo and Longford offices in October 2006. Also a new Overpayment and Debt Management (ODM) system was developed as part of this phase and was implemented in November 2006.

Release 5 of Phase 2 was delivered in January 2007, when the Child Benefit scheme was migrated onto the BOMi (570,000 claims successfully migrated). Also in April 2007 Household Benefits in respect of 340,000 customers was implemented on the BOMi together with 70,000 Free Travel claims for clients not in receipt of a social welfare payment.

During 2007 the Business Object Model Implementation was further expanded to cater for new business initiatives as follows:

  • Certification functionality was developed for the Child Benefit scheme to provide a control measure allowing continual certification of entitlement.
  • The scanning of returned Child Benefit certificates, enabled by a strengthened Publish and Subscribe mechanism, was implemented in September 2007. This was an extremely successful implementation realising significant increases in productivity in dealing with the extension of the Child Benefit scheme to children over sixteen.
  • The scanning functionality was further developed in 2007 to cater for the Household Benefits application and continuing eligibility certification. This functionality was implemented in mid-January 2008.
  • Functionality, facilitating individualisation of payments, was implemented in September 2007 allowing for direct payment to the Qualified Adult for all new SPT/C claims. This implementation also allowed Personal Payable Order (PPO) customers to be transferred automatically to the Electronic Information Transfer (EIT) payment method on migration to SPC.
  • There is also integration with key legacy systems such as the Central Records System, PENLIVE (legacy pensions processing system) and the integrated Short Term Schemes system (ISTS).

2.3. Service Delivery Modernisation (SDM) current Phase (3)

A four year Framework Agreement was established with three economic operators, with effect from January 2008. Key projects, either delivered to date or currently underway, under the Framework include:

2.3.1. Customer Object Development Project

The Customer Object Development project was the first in a series of projects to move the Department's primary customer Central Records System to the new BOMi platform. The primary focus of this project was on delivering a new technical architecture solution that provides the basis for the migration and enrichment of customer management business functionality on the new platform. The new technical architecture solution was implemented in February 2009. An organisational change review of the Client Identity Services business units and the customer registration and card management business functions was conducted in an earlier phase of the project and completed in 2008.

2.3.2. Widow's and Widower's (Contributory) Pension scheme, Widowed Parent Grant scheme and Fuel Allowance scheme

The project to extend the BOMi to encompass these schemes commenced in July 2008 and was completed in 2009. The project included redesigned business processes and an organisational structure aligned to the technology transformation.

2.3.3. Medical Referral and Case Management Project

The aim of the Medical Referral and Case Management (MRCM) Project was to implement organisational and technical improvements in both the administrative and medical streams of the Department's Medical Review and Assessment Service. The project has developed functionality to support the medical referrals process by providing an electronic facility for scheduling appointments for medical assessments and for recording the outcome of these assessments. This new referrals process has had a broader use across the Department as it has formed the building blocks for the introduction of activation measures, such as case management, for people of working age. This project was successfully completed in December 2010.

2.3.4. Activation: Customer Profiling & Case Management [APCM]

A project is underway to give effect to the directions of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Renewal and Jobs in relation to the selection and referral of jobseekers to Case Managers within the Department under the National Employment and Entitlements Service [NEES].

The Department is working on the specific measures approved in respect of this revised process which will support the introduction of customer profiling, selection, referral and case management based on profile data for jobseeker customers. (Further information is outlined in section 3 of this Appendix).

2.3.5. Means Object Project

The Department carried out a project to provide functionality on the BOMi to facilitate the capture and storage of means data and the calculation of customer means [carry out a means assessment] for (the following) 11 social assistance schemes:

  • Carer's Allowance
  • Disability Allowance
  • Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Non-Contributory) Pension
  • Guardian's Payment
  • Blind Pension
  • Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Pre-Retirement Allowance
  • Farm Assist
  • One Parent Family Payment
  • Supplementary Welfare Allowance, and
  • State Non-Contributory Pension

The project commenced on 12 July 2010 and was completed in Q1 2011.

2.3.6. Technical Support and Maintenance

A contract is in place for technical support, maintenance and enhancement of the BOMi; for the support and operation of the continuous build and integration process, release management and the operation and development of the central test function.

A number of additional developments have been undertaken as mini-projects under the technical support contract. To end 2011, these have included:

  • Domiciliary Care scheme and associated Respite Care Grant (these schemes, previously administered by the Health Service Executive were transferred to the Department and are now processed on the BOMi since 2009).
  • Functionality was developed to cater for the Compensatory Payment Scheme- providing for a payment to the parents of 18 year olds who had their child benefit rate reduced in the 2009 Budget.
  • Functionality was implemented on the BOMi for the Invalidity Pension scheme in 2010 with existing Invalidity Pension customers being migrated to the BOMi in 2011.
  • Irish Residency Certificate to validate the continuing entitlement of people living in Ireland to Child Benefit was developed and implemented in 2010.
  • Claim forms for State Pension Contributory, Household Benefit, Widow's Contributory Pension and Child Benefit can be completed and submitted on line and submitted via the Department's website.
  • SMS text acknowledgements issue in respect of new claims for State Pension Transition, State Pension Contributory and Widows Contributory Pension.
  • Refactor of Task Object to make changes to task functionality to allow the Department's officers and their managers to more easily manage their workload.
  • Changes to communications functionality were implemented arising from requirements under the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010.
  • A technical upgrade of the core BOMi infrastructure was completed to provide for increased scalability, resiliency and availability.
  • Virtualisation of system environments was introduced to allow for more availability of and less contention for environments.

On completion of the current contract, the Department may take a new approach to BOMi Support and Maintenance, with the Department's resources taking more direct control of management and delivery of the function, while sourcing required external expertise either from the Framework Agreement or from outside the Framework where appropriate.

2.3.7. Local Office Claims Initiative

The Local Office Claims Initiative (LOCI) is a system which provides a more accessible interface to the BOMi for staff, including staff with disabilities. The project was implemented in 2009 using Naked Objects for .NET and the Microsoft 2010 product suite (BOMi4). The LOCI project was delivered by the Department's SDM Design and Build team. The Department continues to grow skills and capacity to deliver business driven modernisation initiatives.

Functionality in relation to the provision of DB481 (Statements of Customer Contributions) and PRSI refunds was also developed by the Department using Naked Objects for.NET and the Microsoft 2010 product suite and was implemented in Quarter 1 of 2011.

2.3.8. Local Office Process Modernisation (LOPM)

The downturn in the Irish economy since 2007 led to a sharp increase in unemployment with the live register rising from just under 200,000 in March 2008 to 455,000 in August 2010. The sharp rise in the level of Jobseeker claims put considerable pressure on staff and facilities in our system of Local Offices which manage these claims. The LOPM project was set up within the SDM Programme to help to address this situation by making the BOMi available to staff in the local offices and developing facilities on the system to assist staff in dealing with jobseeker claims.

The main focus of the LOPM project is to reduce footfall in the Local Offices to provide time and space to enable staff to interact with customers in a more focused manner. Work completed under LOPM included the development of a range of signing options for customers (electronic signature capture, automated certificate pattern creation for casuals, online signing capabilities). Other features delivered included the ability to generate bulk communications to customers and facilities to deal with customers working in the Education Sector. This functionality will ease the claim taking burden in Local Offices during academic holiday periods.

The system has been rolled out to 50 local offices to date and more than 55,000 jobseekers claims in respect of casual workers are now being processed through the BOMi system. Interactive versions of the main claim forms for Jobseekers Allowance and Jobseekers Benefit will be available on the Department's web site in the coming months. Other facilities developed under the LOPM project are currently being piloted in selected Local Offices and will be rolled out to local offices over the coming months.

2.3.9. Certification via Mobile Phone

A project was undertaken to investigate the feasibility of allowing automated self-certification of unemployment using mobile telephony to selected groups of customers who would be invited to register and avail of this service.

It is envisaged that customers would be invited to attend at their local office to enrol for the service. Before enrolling the identity of the customer would be checked and where necessary the customer would be registered to 'Safe level 2', which would include the capture of a photographic image and the customer's signature. The customer would then be enrolled for the mobile telephony service which would include the provision of a sample voice print and details regarding the customer's mobile 'phone will be captured.

A 'live trial' of this functionality was carried out in Q4 2011 at Sligo Local Office and a report on the outcome of this trial is currently under consideration in the Department.

2.3.10. State Pension (Non-Contributory), Carer's Allowance and Disability Allowance

Development work is nearing completion to move the State Pension (Non-Contributory), Carer's Allowance and Disability Allowance onto the BOMi system. This project commenced in January 2010. All new and existing claims for SPNC and all new claims for Carer's Allowance and Disability Allowance are now administered on the BOMi. All existing claims for Carer's Allowance and Disability Allowance will be migrated onto the BOMi during 2012.

2.3.11. Redundancy Scheme and Insolvency Scheme

A Government decision of 4 May 2010 provided for the transfer of the Redundancy Payments Scheme and the Insolvency Payments Scheme from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation (DETI) to the Department of Social Protection (DSP), with effect from 1 January 2011.

The BOMi was extended to add functionality to cater for the business requirements of these schemes. This project was successfully implemented in September 2011.

2.3.12. Public Services Card

The Department co-chairs the Standard Authentication Framework Environment (SAFE) programme which has the aim of defining and implementing a unified registration process for customers across the public sector. The customer will be registered to defined SAFE levels of certainty in relation to their identity and the services available will be matched against the SAFE levels, i.e. the higher the SAFE level of registration the greater and deeper the extent of services that will be available to the customer.

The Department has commenced issuing a Public Services Card (PSC) in line with the SAFE programme. The PSC brings improvements by including an improved registration process and better security features, which will considerably reduce the potential for forgery and fraudulent use. The PSC will also be compatible with the Integrated Ticketing services on transport facilities under the �Transport 21� programme and, in line with a commitment in the current Government programme, the existing Free Travel Pass will be replaced with the PSC.

The purpose of this project is to deliver (1) the capability to register the Department's customers within the SAFE (Standard Authentication Framework Environment) structure of registration including the capture of photograph and signature; (2) the capacity to issue and manage the new Public Service Card and (3) to progress some of the organisational change recommendations stemming from the recently completed first Customer Object project. Interaction with other Departments and agencies is a feature of this and other development projects. A project for further BOMi development required in relation to the management of the card is underway and is scheduled for completion in 2012.

2.4. Service Delivery Modernisation (SDM) current Phase (4)

2.4.1. The Department has put in place a four year Framework with three Service Providers to deliver further projects to support the continuing development of it's SDM programme. The new Framework came into effect on 30th August 2012.

2.4.2. Payment and Generic Scheme Project

2.4.3. The initial project under the Framework will migrate a further fifteen schemes, both means and non-means based which are currently delivered on a number of standalone or legacy ICT systems, to the BOMi platform. The project also involves changes in the way payments are processed on the BOMi to allow for a more flexible approach. This project is currently underway and is scheduled to complete in Q2 2013.

3. Transformation Agenda Initiatives

3.1. Introduction

In January 2012, the Department merged with the Community Welfare Service, formerly part of the Health Service Executive, and the employment services and community programmes, formerly part of F�S, making it one of the largest public service organisations in the country. It now has a staff of approximately 7,000, a network of 10 regional headquarter offices and over 1,000 local and branch offices spread throughout the country. An indication of the current scale of the Department's business is that it now manages and delivers in the region of 70 schemes/programmes, processes in excess of 2 million claims each year and makes payments of over �19 billion annually.

This integration has required a review of how the Department delivers services to its customers coupled with new initiatives for people of working age, old age people, people with disabilities and children.

The Department now has three divisional regions supporting the delivery of its business to people of working age along with a number of Headquarter offices delivering services to the old, sick and children.

3.2. Working Age Initiatives

A primary objective of transforming the services of the Department is to develop an enhanced and tailored approach to supporting those who are unemployed to avail of opportunities to get back to work.

3.3. The National Employment and Entitlements Service (NEES)

The National Employment and Entitlements Service (NEES) action plan and, more recently, the Pathways to Work plan, have identified the concept of the one stop shop as a critical part of the Department's new service delivery model. As a concept, the one-stop-shop ultimately means that people who receive the Department's services will be able to avail of them in the one location, where feasible, and in a consistent manner. These services will be provided by a mix of staff with a wide breadth of skills and experience in entitlements, community welfare and employment services. This will provide a more efficient service to our clients while also providing a wider variety of work for staff. Planning for the one stop shop approach is currently in the live trial and development phase with roll out of the first four offices already underway.

3.4. Pathways to Work

In February 2012 the Pathways to Work plan was published. This plan complements the Government's Action Plan for Jobs which aims to create 100,000 new jobs by 2016 by ensuring that unemployed people are prepared and supported to take up job vacancies. The aim of Pathways to Work is to ensure that as many new job vacancies as possible are filled by those on the Live Register. The plan will have a particular focus on halting the growth in long term unemployment by centring supports on individuals who are unemployed for more than twelve months. Pathways to Work will focus on a number of different areas to achieve this:

  • More regular and on-going engagement with people who are unemployed
  • Greater targeting of activation places and opportunities
  • Incentivising employers to provide more jobs for people who are unemployed

3.5. Single Working Age Scheme

The introduction of the Single Working Age Social Assistance Payment or 'single payment' will represent a fundamental overhaul of Ireland's social welfare system. It is based on the principle that people are given or directed to the supports and/or services they need in order to enable them to take up employment or to avail of education and training opportunities. This is matched by a requirement that they avail of that support i.e. that there is a right and also a matching responsibility.

The overall objective, therefore, in introducing the single payment is to improve outcomes for people of working age from a poverty and social inclusion perspective and, in so doing, to ensure that changes to the social welfare system 'make work pay'. The single payment is one element of a strategy, which puts the client at the centre of a new activation focused service. Recipients of the single payment will receive the necessary supports and services so that they can participate in targeted activation measures that will assist them in finding employment. The development of the single payment is happening in tandem with the roll out of the National Employment and Entitlement Service and also the prioritisation and development of the supports and services needed for all clients to take part in activation measures. The single payment will cover all people of working age including those who would currently be classified as unemployed, disabled, or parenting alone on a means tested payment.

This initiative is at discussion stage but will have impacts for future Department developments.

3.6. Old Age

Overview of the National Pensions Framework

The aim of the National Pensions Framework is to deliver security, equity, choice and clarity for the individual. It also aims to increase pension coverage, particularly among low to middle income groups and to ensure that State support for pensions is equitable and sustainable. The framework sets out key developments for the future of pension provision in Ireland, as follows:

Social Welfare Pensions

  • Mandatory social welfare pension coverage will continue.
  • The Government will seek to maintain the rate at 35% of average weekly earnings.
  • The system will be simplified with a move to a total contributions approach.
  • Homemakers 'disregard' will be replaced with credits for new pensioners from 2012.
  • State pension age will increase to 66 in 2014, 67 in 2021 and 68 in 2028.
  • Arrangements will be put in place to allow people to postpone receipt of the State Pension and to make up contribution shortfalls.

Auto-enrolment

  • This will increase coverage and employer responsibility.
  • There will be matching employer contributions and matching State contributions. The State Contribution will equal 33% tax relief (delivery mechanism to be decided).
  • There will be an opt-out mechanism for employees.
  • Access to Approved Retirement Funds will be provided.

Current Occupational and Voluntary Provision

  • There will be a matching State contribution equal to 33% tax relief (delivery mechanism to be decided).
  • Access to Approved Retirement Funds will be provided for defined contribution scheme members.
  • There will be stronger regulation.
  • The funding standard will be kept under review.

Public Service Pensions

  • A single new pension scheme will be introduced for all new entrants, with effect from 2010.

Tracing Service Dormant Benefits

  • A tracing service will be put in place to facilitate the tracing of pension rights by former employees and scheme trustees.
  • Consideration will be given to the establishment of a State managed fund into which untraceable accounts would be deposited.

3.7. People with Disabilities

  • Introduction of a statutory sick pay scheme.
  • The feasibility of introducing a statutory sick pay scheme is under consideration at present. The Social Insurance Fund pays benefits such as illness, jobseekers, maternity, and disability and state pensions. Currently, employees who are sick are paid illness benefit from day three of illness for up to two years. In addition, up to 70% of employers operate occupational sick pay schemes which provide additional benefits to employees in those companies.
  • The new proposal is to introduce a statutory scheme which would require employers to contribute to sick pay costs during periods of employee illness.

Partial Capacity Benefit (PCB)

  • The Partial Capacity Benefit (PCB) scheme provides an opportunity for people with disabilities, and assessed to have an employment capacity which is restricted when compared to the norm, to avail of employment opportunities while continuing to receive an income support payment. The introduction of the scheme seeks to respond to weaknesses in the current structure of the welfare system, which categorises people only as 'fit to work' or 'unfit to work', and which does not reflect the reality for many existing welfare customers.
  • The scheme will be open to people who are in receipt of Invalidity Pension (IP) or who have been in receipt of Illness Benefit (IB) for a minimum of six months. Participation in the scheme will be voluntary and the scheme is designed in particular to respond to the needs of people who currently seek to avail of 'exemptions' in order to take up employment opportunities. The limitations on hours worked which apply under the existing 'exemptions' arrangements will not apply to the new scheme.

3.8. Children

Single Child Payment

  • A review of Child Income Support (CIS) policies and associated programmes was published in November 2010. The Review was established in 2009 in line with the Government's expenditure review initiative. The Review found that there is a need to rationalise the current system of CIS payments and selective programmes in particular to provide more consistent assistance to low income families and to encourage parental employment.
  • A key part of the overall approach would be the eventual replacement of the existing separate payments with an integrated payment per child combining both universal and selective components. This could ensure future agility in the balance between universal and selective supports; a balance that is not provided by the current system. This approach would have considerable implications for the structure of the Family Income Supplement (FIS) and in particular for a proposed split into child income support and in-work support components.
  • To inform any future decisions in this area, a feasibility study is underway taking account of technical, operational and financial issues involved. It will consider the key design aspects of an integrated payment, how it would work in practice and when it could be introduced.
Last modified:02/11/2012
 

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