The new child support payment system could be allowing non-paying parents a free ride as the frontline Child Support Agency public servants are diverted to taking phone calls from customers irate with the new system.
Agency insiders say their case-management work, including pursuing bad payers, is being put aside as they try to cope with a new payments system which has been described as a "shambles" a "shit show" and a "cock-up".
Child Support Agency staff report the new system, called Pluto and supplied by multinational computing giant SAP, is slower and clumsier than the obsolete technology it was supposed to replace and public servants reacted with fury on Wednesday and Thursday to official denials of any problems.
The Department of Human Services, which runs the agency, continues to deny there have been any "escalations" of CSA staff to the phones.
"We have rostered additional staff to manage child support telephone enquiries while we roll out training in the new system," spokesman Hank Jongen said.
"It is a normal business practice to move our resources to accommodate such a need.
"These additional staff to support training are not escalations or emergency escalations."
But public servants who work at the CSA, backed by their union the CPSU, say managers are simply not recording the "escalations" on staff rosters, leaving no official record of what was really going on at the agency.
One public servant said they were "disgusted and disillusioned" with the conduct of their bosses, saying they had been ordered to abandon their case work, follow-up, training and development and to help take phone calls from unhappy clients.
CSA staff were unable to act if parents were defaulting on their payments, the insider warned.
"If the money is not coming in, then it's being followed-up," the public servant told Fairfax.
"We can't follow that up, because of the Pluto cock-up."
The worker complained that routine child support applications that used to take 10 minutes now take two hours because "we're all trying to fumble our way through Pluto".
The system that is supposed to administer the payments that support more than 1.2 million children, has had a long and troubled history even before it was rushed into service in April.
Pluto is the fourth technological fix to be tried since the then- Labor government announced in 2013 its intentions to replace Cuba, which dates back to 2002 and was hopelessly obsolete four years ago.
Human Services has consistently refused to reveal how much taxpayers' money it has sunk into the project.
Fairfax understands the original $109 million budget has been exceeded by a large margin.
But Pluto simply puts a new interface on Cuba, with the old system still undertaking the payment processing.
Workplace union the CPSU held talks with senior Human Service managers on Wednesday about Pluto and the workplace problems it had thrown up, but union official Lisa Newman said her colleagues came away from the meeting none the wiser.
"They [the department] obfuscated and avoided answering the questions that were asked," Ms Newman said.
"Pluto was made to be a complete replacement for Cuba but Cuba is still banging away.
"What we don't have a clear understanding of, is the risk mitigation strategies that the department has taken to protect against system failures."
The union is also worried about public servant getting in trouble for neglecting their work after being ordered "unofficially' to drop everything and answer phones.