Centrelink public servants who ask too many questions about their agency's controversial "robo-debt" recovery effort are being "managed" out of debt recovery units, according to independent MP Andrew Wilkie.
The Tasmanian independent also alleges public servants are being played against each other by managers, competing for the highest daily quota of debt notices.
But Centrelink is unhappy with Mr Wilkie's letter to Ombudsman Colin Neave, with the agency saying on Monday the the allegations are inaccurate or misleading.
Centrelink says there are no quotas and that Mr Wilkie's accusations about the management of mental health issues among clients were overblown.
As the federal government announced on Monday it would make some small changes to the way the program was conducted, Mr Wilkie presented presented a list of extraordinary allegations to the Ombudsman, who is investigating the program.
The MP says he has had conversations with former Centrelink employees who have left their jobs because of the ongoing robo-debt debacle.
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Mr Wilkie said the former public servants had reported problems with suicidal clients and a breakdown in the systems that were supposed to support them.
"The number of customers who report feeling suicidal is high," Mr Wilkie wrote.
"It has been reported to me that that over a period of days there was an error in the system so that calls transferred to social workers were instead transferred back to casual workers on the general phone line that have no training in suicide prevention."
Mr Wilkie wrote that his informants described public servants being pressured by managers.
"The focus has very much been on quantity over quality," the MP wrote.
"Officers are given a quota of 6-10 debt notices a day and encouraged by senior departmental staff to compete against each other for the highest quota.
"Officers are discouraged from looking too closely at complex cases and have been managed out of debt recovery if too many question are asked."
Centrelink's spokesman Hank Jongen issued a statement on Monday disputing much of the content of Mr Wilkie's letter.
"There has been no increase in social work referrals due to the online compliance measure," he said.
"Sadly, we have seen more referrals due to family and domestic violence, which reflects the Government's additional focus and increased staff training in this area.
"Staff are transferring calls to social workers where necessary as per our standard process and we are meeting our service standards.
"There have been no procedural issues with social workers being available."
The Centrelink media manager also denied that a quota system was in place to deal with debt notices.
"Staff have not been instructed to raise six to 10 debt notices per day as part of this measure," Mr Jongen said.
"There is no quota, debt notices are raised as debts are identified.
"However, as part of our normal practice we do have service standard targets for dealing with debts as quickly as possible, which may include overtime. It would appear these two processes have been confused."