Work is underway on a $450 million programme to modernise and bring greater transparency to the Accident Compensation Corporation -- after it lost public trust and was judged inefficient.
After Cabinet signed off on the overhaul late last year, the corporation today announced that the first stage of its mammoth transformation programme had kicked-off.
ACC Minister Nikki Kaye said the five-year work would transform the corporation -- and New Zealanders' interactions with it.
"Too much of ACC's time and energy has been consumed on managing claims for relatively minor injuries.
"By freeing up staff to spend more time with people with complex injuries, ACC will be able to focus on those with the greatest needs."
Changes will include:
• Allowing self-service online, and shifting from paper-based processes that were judged to increase the risk of privacy breaches.
• Moving resources away from minor injuries and claims, meaning people with complex claims will receive more support.
• Improving the transparency of claim decisions, with people able to go online and "track and trace" decision-making as it progresses.
• Use data and evidence to identify what actually makes a difference, particularly in injury prevention.
More immediate changes will include businesses being able to access online levy information through an ACC portal, and improved levy invoices.
"The average self-employed invoice will reduce from eight pages to two, the average small employer invoice will reduce from 10 pages to four, and the average large employer invoice will reduce from 12 pages to six," Ms Kaye said.
"ACC will also move to introduce online payments for businesses within the next year."
A paper presented to Cabinet by Ms Kaye last year outlined the case for change, noting that 2013 analysis found "ACC remained inefficient in delivering core services to its customers".
All of the corporation's key customer groups gave feedback that showed low trust and confidence, stemming from frustrations including the speed and accuracy of payments, the ease of doing business with ACC, and the management of personal information.
In March 2014, ACC -- which employs about 3200 staff and manages 1.7 million new claims each year -- had the second-lowest public trust and confidence score in the public sector.
Ms Kaye said lessons from other major IT projects had been taken on board, and steps to minimise the chances of things going wrong included extending the project timeframe from three to five years.
"The board and chief executive have advised me and it's been noted by Cabinet that while there will be some structural changes, staff levels should remain relatively stable."
To December last year, ACC had spent $38 million in the design and planning phases of the programme. The full cost of about $456 million will be met from within ACC's operating budget, and will not impact on levies.
The corporation will soon issue a request for proposal for a "transformation partner".