In 2018–19, the Department continued to champion public sector transformation, making improvements to the way that the APS operates and increasing productivity and the delivery of services to citizens and businesses.
Shared Services Program
The Shared Services Program aims to reduce the time entities spend on corporate services so that they can focus more on delivering the Government’s priorities, including delivering better services to citizens and businesses.
The Shared Services Hubs take on the delivery of the transactional elements of these functions, allowing staff to focus on higher value activities.
At the centre of the Program is collaboration and co-design. A Shared Services Taskforce, made up of representatives from across the Commonwealth, is developing the roadmap for the Program. Finance has involved more than 100 APS staff from 11 entities in this work.
The aim is to realise an APS where every staff member has access to the same—and the best—technology and the simplest processes, enhanced through automation, for common administrative tasks such as payroll, leave, travel, invoices and credit cards.
We are also developing a common IT platform, known as GovERP, managed centrally, that will bring together personnel and financial data that can be accessed for analysis in near real time.
Modernisation Fund projects
In addition to overseeing the Government’s $500 million Public Service Modernisation Fund, Finance is delivering a number of Modernisation Fund projects that aim to improve public sector productivity.
An example is the Shared Budget Workflow System (SBWS). The SBWS is designed for, and will be used by, staff across Australian Government entities who contribute to the Budget to support timely and reliable advice to the Government. It fully or partially automates highly manual components of the Budget process, introducing data validation and modern communication tools such as online document collaboration between users, which will improve communication across entities.
The current Budget processes rely extensively on manual processes and significant resources are needed to quality assure content and deliver information to ministers in compressed timeframes. The SBWS will improve consistency of reporting to government and provide increased data analytics capabilities to help inform briefing to government.
Digital Annual Reporting Tool
As foreshadowed in Finance's 2018–19 Corporate Plan, the Department deployed a new digital capability—the Digital Annual Reporting Tool (DART)—to modernise the reporting of corporate and administrative information across the Commonwealth.
In March 2019, the new digital annual reporting requirements and the related Transparency Portal website were launched at the Modernising the Public Sector Expo.
Since this launch, over 380 Commonwealth employees and over 180 entities have been trained to use DART, which helps to standardise the collection and presentation of data and information in annual reports.
Through this initiative the APS is expected to complete the shift to online planning and performance reporting. This innovation will help drive broader workplace efficiencies through electronic document workflow processes and eventually bring an end to the need to print hard copy annual reports.
The Transparency Portal provides a single point of access for all Commonwealth company and Commonwealth entity annual reports and empowers users to instantly generate tables and charts that compare information on resourcing, remuneration and staffing from multiple government bodies and financial years. By November 2019, it is anticipated that the complete set of 2018–19 Commonwealth annual reports will be available on the Transparency Portal.
Modernising the Public Sector Expo
On 13 March 2019, Finance hosted the Modernising the Public Sector Expo—a showcase of initiatives that are improving public sector productivity and delivering real results for Australian citizens and businesses.
The Expo included 18 interactive displays highlighting reform initiatives taking place across the public sector. More than 500 staff from across the public sector had the opportunity to meet with colleagues to discuss the innovative work underway and to share ideas after the Expo through the Modernising the Public Sector GovTEAMS community. The community, made up of more than 400 members, is a space where staff can learn about projects and initiatives already happening across the public sector to make it more effi cient, productive and innovative. Case studies from the Expo are available at publicsectorreform.gov.au.
Centre of Procurement Excellence
In March 2019, Finance launched the CoPE—a major initiative stemming from the broader APS reform and modernisation agenda. The CoPE exemplifies Finance’s approach to stewardship. It will help entities to build their procurement capability, strengthen partnerships with the business community, encourage innovation in procurement and harness data to drive better value for money for entities.
The CoPE focuses on five pillars: capability, risk, policy stewardship, data and information and productivity. It is harnessing the collective experience and expertise of Commonwealth entities, Finance’s partners in state and territory governments and the business community.
During 2018–19, Finance commenced a range of CoPE-related initiatives, including:
- convening the Secretary’s Procurement Roundtable, which brings together senior membersof key Commonwealth entities and the business community twice a year to discuss issues related to Commonwealth procurement
- engaging with entities, state and territory jurisdictions and international governments to leverage existing knowledge, tools and better practice
- establishing a digital community of practice on GovTEAMS, which enables representatives of all entities bound by the Commonwealth Procurement Framework to share better practice and lessons learned, to work together to solve common procurement-related problems and to facilitate mobility in the procurement workforce
- updating, refreshing and redesigning the industry-facing Selling to Government website to make it easier for the business community to engage with government procurement
- publishing better practice case studies—in particular, case studies on engaging with the small and medium enterprise sector—on Finance’s website
- establishing a CoPE Steering Group, which consists of representatives from key Commonwealth entities and the business community, to provide strategic oversight, support and guidance as initiatives are developed and rolled out under CoPE
- commencing work to establish a Commonwealth Procurement Capability Baseline as an important first step in developing a Commonwealth Procurement Capability Roadmap.
GBE Professional Education Programs
The scale of the Commonwealth’s balance sheet investments has increased in recent times through the provision of equity contributions to GBEs, loans and the establishment of funds to support policy objectives, including the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, Inland Rail and the Regional Investment Corporation.
The GBE Professional Education Program was established in recognition of the need to enhance skills and capability throughout the APS to support the development and implementation of a wide variety of complex investment proposals and to actively manage the Government’s investments throughout their life cycle. Finance helped to enhance APS-wide commercial acumen by using the skills and expertise of the private sector to deliver customised training courses and secondment opportunities.
The key component of the Program is a customised training course on financial analysis, facilitated by the Australian Graduate School of Management at the University of New South Wales. The course contains both a fundamentals unit and an advanced unit for specialist commercial analysts.
Through the delivery of the Program, Finance undertook a stewardship role in developing APS wide commercial acumen to ensure the APS is well equipped to manage the Government’s investments.