[LINK] Queensland Flood Relief Payments Delayed by Manual Processing

Tom Worthington tom.worthington at tomw.net.au
Sun Feb 27 11:58:03 AEDT 2011

The Premier of Queensland, Anna Bligh, has apologised for delays in 
processing of payments from the Premiers Disaster Relief Appeal: 

The Premier has ordered that the process be overhauled. Unfortunately, 
it appears that the processing was being done manually and there are no 
plans to change this, so it is unlikely the process will be 
significantly improved.

The Premier explained that about 100 people were working on processing 
applications and directed more people be put on this if needed. However, 
more people are unlikely to greatly speed up a manual processing system. 
Also diverting government staff to this task will mean they are not 
available to assist flood victims. Using automation would allow the 
process to be done in minutes, rather than days.

To Apply for Premier’s Disaster Relief Funds applicants are required to 
fill in a seven page form. The Premier's Disaster Relief Appeal 
emergency assistance form is provided as a 54 Kbyte PDF file which can 
be downloaded. The instructions say "Please use black or blue pen" and 
to return the form by Fax, Post or in person: 

There is no provision to fill the form in online and return it 
electronically. As a result there will be delays while the form is 
delivered to the processing centre and further delays and errors as 
staff then manually transcribe the details from the form into systems to 
record and check the details.

The Queensland government should consider providing an online version of 
the form. This could be completed directly by the applicant using their 
own computer or smart phone, or by staff in a Community Recovery Centre. 
Much of the processing could then be carried out automatically.

The form could also be made much simpler and easier to fill out by 
making use of existing government databases. Rather than ask the 
applicant for details which are then checked against government records, 
the needed information could be simply extracted from those systems. 
This would particularly be of use where applicants copies of 
documentation have been lost in the disaster.

Tom Worthington FACS CP HLM, TomW Communications Pty Ltd. t: 0419496150
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia  http://www.tomw.net.au
Adjunct Senior Lecturer, School of Computer Science, The
Australian National University http://cs.anu.edu.au/courses/COMP7310/
Visiting Scientist, CSIRO ICT Centre: http://bit.ly/csiro_ict_canberra

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