The federal government's Child Support tech wreck is costing taxpayers at least $100,000 a day as public service bosses scramble to finish the job.
Up to 80 IT technicians, most of them contractors costing between $1500 and $2500 a day, are working frantically to fix the new Child Support payment system, a job the Department of Human Services pledged would be done by December 2015.
Fairfax revealed last month that the replacement project for the antiquated child support payment system (CSSR) was the latest federal government IT failure, with about 3000 public servants at the Child Support Agency still trying to administer more than $3.2 billion in payments each year using technology that was declared obsolete four years ago.
Insiders says staff costs alone on the project, mostly payments for private sector contractors, have running at more than $100,000 per day, at a conservative estimate, for many months.
But the true figure could be much higher, with the giant Department of Human Services refusing to answer questions about how much taxpayers' money is being spent each day.
Human Services, which has been plagued by a string of failed IT projects, is the department responsible for the troubled myGov web portal and has been entrusted with $1 billion to replace the main welfare payment system in a giant undertaking called WPIT.
Techs have been drafted in from "business as usual" areas to try to finally put an end to the child support project that was supposed to be operational more than 12 months ago.
Fairfax understands that the program had already blown its $104 million budget by mid-2016, when all the work done so far was scrapped and a new technological fix decided upon.
In response to the revelations in late January about the troubled project in late January, Human Services' IT bosses decreed that the project, which commenced in 2013, should be finished in two weeks.
Then a week was lost waiting for clearance from higher up the departmental foodchain to renew many of the contractors' working agreements, according to sources close to the program.
The Brisbane-based technicians are working on the department's third attempt to deliver the project, which was originally meant to be in place by December 2015.
The first attempt was abandoned in 2014 and the second effort was dropped in mid-2016.
At that point, department staff were promised a new solution; the continued use of CUBA, but with modern, front screens using technology supplied by German tech giant SAP and acting as a "wrapper" around the older CUBA technology.
Fairfax understands that more than $114 million had been spent on the project by the time the previous work was dropped and the "wrapper" solution unveiled in May 2016.
Human Services would not answer questions about how many technicians were working on the CSSR, how much they were costing, when the project was likely to be finished or how much taxpayers' money in total had been spent.
"The Department of Human Services is utilising an integrated workforce on the Child Support System Replacement (CSSR) Project," departmentals spokesman Hank Jongen said in a statement.
"Staff representing Information Technology, Service Delivery and the Policy and Program aspects of the project have been supplemented by contractors using the department's ICT Services panel arrangements.
"The initial build and design work was undertaken jointly between DHS and SAP."