26 September 2023

DFFH audit finds data system inadequate

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A performance audit into whether the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH) had adequate controls of information to ensure its child protection data system was of high quality has found it did not.

In his report Quality of Child Protection Data, Auditor-General Andrew Greaves said DFFH’s Client Relationship Information System (CRIS) was a critical data system that stored sensitive information about vulnerable Victorian children and which the Department depended on to do its work.

“It is central to how DFFH delivers its child protection services,” Mr Greaves said.

“DFFH needs to make sure that CRIS data is high quality so it can fulfil its obligations to vulnerable children and support its policies and decisions,” he said

The Auditor-General’s investigation found DFFH did not have adequate controls to ensure its child protection data were of high quality.

“We found examples of incomplete, inaccurate and inconsistent data,” Mr Greaves said.

“This means that DFFH may not have easy access to reliable data to help it make decisions about vulnerable children,” he said.

“These data quality issues may also prevent DFFH from using the data to monitor children’s progress in out-of-home care.”

Mr Greaves said the factors that contributed to poor-quality data to the Department included child protection data not complying with Government data quality standards; CRIS not fit for its intended purpose; CRIS data quality controls didn’t always work; and the workloads of CRIS users limited their capacity to correctly record information about children in a timely way.

“CRIS is a legacy system that has not kept pace with technology and sector changes,” the Auditor-General said.

“For example, unlike contemporary systems and applications, CRIS does not communicate and integrate with DFFH’s other important systems, such as its carer payment system,” he said.

“We have sighted documentation seeking Government funding for DFFH’s technology reform for its data systems, including for its child protection data.

Mr Greaves made three recommendations to DFFH aimed at improving the quality of its CRIS child protection data.

The Auditor-General’s 54-page Report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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