While we pivoted to deal with the challenges of COVID-19, we also continued our program of organisational reform. Its value was clear during the pandemic response.
Transform22 is a three-year comprehensive program reforming corporate enabling services in Canberra and at posts. By 2022 it will have reshaped our core enabling services and delivery of whole-of-government services internationally. A year into Transform22, we are benefiting from simplified, streamlined services, enhanced data management and new ways of working.
Our investment in enhancing data capture and business intelligence reporting is making a tangible difference to how we work and paid dividends during COVID-19 for departmental and partner agency staff. Data from our custom-built applications, for example, provided real-time information for briefings for the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and the Secretary and supported COVID-19-related decision making. For more information, see Fit-for-purpose and secure ICT.
In 2019–20 we took advantage of new technologies to replace routine tasks, supporting the department to rationalise its corporate finance processes. We progressively implemented global banking arrangements, streamlining banking relationships and improving our financial management system (SAP). This substantially reduced time-consuming payment runs and centralised visibility of cash management at overseas posts.
We strengthened internal financial reporting practices to improve financial accountability and sustainability. This helped us focus on emerging challenges. During COVID-19 our expanded global banking process enabled fast switching of payments operations from posts to Canberra, freeing up staff to respond to consular issues overseas.
Modernising our overseas operations
The reDESIGN program continued to strengthen our global service delivery model in support of low administration, high impact posts. Its hub-and-spoke approach currently covers 49 posts, streamlining processes and removing duplication. We moved some work to central hubs or Canberra and automated manual processes. We started with European regional posts in 2019–20 and will expand to posts in other regions in coming years.
COVID-19 demonstrated reDESIGN’s value. Regional hubs were able to quickly reprioritise work to provide leadership to and support client posts with staff welfare, consular services, payroll and supplier payments.
We also applied new and innovative approaches to achieve better outcomes as we established new posts in Koror, Palau and Rarotonga, Cook Islands, expanding our diplomatic footprint to reflect our strategic approach in the region.
Leading whole-of-government services overseas
As an overseas hub under the APS-wide shared services program, we are driving a stronger service culture and improving coordination across the department and partner agencies. This is being achieved through our leadership of the reinvigorated deputy secretary-level Global Service Delivery Board, and through the department’s review of our delivery frameworks for management, ICT and security services.
Under the Service Level Arrangement for Management Services, we provided a catalogue of over 200 services to Australia-based and locally engaged staff of 28 partner agencies. This included financial management, human resources, and property and fleet management.
In addition, the department’s ICT workforce and mobile technology supported:
- 170 sites in Australia and overseas
- more than 16,300 users in Canberra, at posts and at ministerial and state and territory offices
- 39 partner agencies.
Under the ICT memorandum of understanding, partner agencies in Australia and overseas received:
- secure communications and networks
- secure devices (computers, printers and mobile phones) and applications (PDMS, cables)
- support and maintenance of the global communications environment.
Our services and support were critical during the response to COVID-19. We provided the enabling technology and assistance for partner agencies to support remote and flexible work arrangements in support of overseas operations.