Go to top of page

Purpose 5: Governing well

Analysis

Effective public sector governance underpins the Australian Government’s ability to deliver its priorities. In 2019–20, PM&C undertook a range of initiatives to further strengthen and, where necessary, improve our capability to govern well.

Late in 2019, PM&C launched the CabNet+ system to improve access to and management of Cabinet-related documents through digital means. Our assessment is that the more frequent and higher number of Cabinet meetings to cover disaster issues could not have successfully occurred without CabNet+.

Work continued on the Data at Your Desk project. This tool, developed in-house, provided policy officers with fingertip access to a range of datasets to better test policy development. This informed the development of sound and actionable advice, at a time when policy decisions needed to be made quickly to address the wide-ranging impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department was also a key player in implementing the Prime Minister’s decisions relating to structural changes of the Australian Public Service (APS). The transition from 18 to 14 departments was the most significant reform to the APS in 30 years. Importantly, this shared activity was delivered on time.

To advance Australia’s interests internationally, PM&C successfully managed a well-executed program for the Prime Minister's overseas engagement and for incoming visits by Heads of State and Heads of Government. PM&C successfully transitioned to support the Prime Minister's virtual engagements, including the G20 meeting in March 2020 and the Australia–India Leaders’ Virtual Summit with the Indian Prime Minister in June 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted progress on some of the activities the Department was on track to achieve. For instance, a shift in Government priorities slowed progress on the introduction of the Data Availability and Transparency Bill by the Office of the National Data Commissioner.

PM&C rolled out a new performance framework to identify and recognise high performance. While full implementation was postponed to next year, staff continued to demonstrate flexibility, a willingness to adapt to a changed working environment and, in some cases, redeployment to other departments or other teams within PM&C to deliver critical functions, such as processing unprecedented volumes of ministerial correspondence.

In 2019–20, PM&C successfully achieved our purpose of governing well. We achieved 11 out of 14 performance measures under this purpose, partially achieved two and are on track to deliver another one over the life of the Corporate Plan.

Results: Key Activity 5.1

Key activity

Measure

Target

Ensure a strategic focus to the Government’s legislative program.

The whole-of-government legislation program is delivered in accordance with the Government’s strategic priorities.

Government’s priority legislative measures are introduced in accordance with the Government’s timetable.

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–2023, pp. 16–17

Result

Achieved

Methodology

Government Division keeps track of all Government legislation introduced and passed by the Parliament.

Analysis

In 2019–20, PM&C supported and helped deliver the Government’s legislation program based on the Government’s strategic legislative and policy priorities. The number of Bills introduced into the Parliament reflects these priorities, noting there were no fixed targets for the number of Government Bills introduced into and passed by Parliament.

The passage of legislation through the Parliament during a sitting period was a matter for the House and Senate, as each chamber determined the time allocated for debate on each Bill.

PM&C’s achievements against this measure

PM&C assisted the Government with the introduction of 216 Bills into the Parliament. In 2019–20, 153 Government Bills were passed in both chambers.

Results: Key Activity 5.2

Key activity

Measure

Target

Enhance and modernise Cabinet processes through delivery of the CabNet+ project.

The new CabNet+ system supports ministers and departments to operate more efficiently and effectively.

CabNet+ successfully implemented and operating effectively.

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–2023, pp. 16–17

Result

Achieved

Methodology

Evaluation through stakeholder feedback and case study

Analysis

In 2019–20, PM&C modernised the Cabinet processes by moving from a paper-based system to an electronic format through the CabNet+ IT system. The new system has enabled faster and more efficient processing, distribution and viewing of Cabinet documents, while enhancing the security and auditability of the system.

PM&C’s achievements against this measure

PM&C successfully rolled out CabNet+ to the APS in December 2019.

Further enhancements and updates were successfully deployed during a period of unprecedented Cabinet load in 2020.

Feedback from ministerial offices and the APS has been positive. (Refer to the following case study).

Case study: Delivery of the CabNet+ system

On 16 December 2019, PM&C successfully rolled out the new CabNet+ system to support Cabinet processes. CabNet+ is an IT system that facilitates distribution of Cabinet documents and information and management of Cabinet and Cabinet committee meetings.

The old CabNet system was built in the 1990s and was designed for paper-based processes. Cabinet material could be viewed in hard copy only. Between 2016 and the rollout in 2019, PM&C redeveloped the old CabNet system, introducing modern technologies for increased efficiency. CabNet+ was developed within PM&C.

The new CabNet+ system improves collaboration, development, governance and reporting on Cabinet material and ensures secure access to Cabinet documents by ministers and the APS. It allows ministers and the APS to have more timely and convenient access to Cabinet documents and associated information. Ministers and agencies can now view and draft Cabinet documents from any location, and with a range of electronic devices, provided they can connect to a secure system. Document processing, viewing and distribution was easier, faster and more efficient, while security and auditability were improved and reliability of the system was maintained. The number of printed Cabinet products was reduced across Government, reducing the likelihood of security breaches.

This new functionality was critical in 2020. It allowed the Prime Minister and Cabinet Secretary to run an effective Cabinet process, despite the social distancing restrictions in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Between 1 January and 29 June 2020, Cabinet Division and CabNet+ supported 179 Cabinet and Cabinet committee meetings, compared with 153 meetings for the whole of 2019.

Enhancements and changes to CabNet+ were made quickly, despite an unprecedented Cabinet load in 2020.

Feedback from ministerial offices and the APS was positive. The CabNet+ project surveyed ministerial offices and departments recently. It found that 83 per cent of respondents responded with ‘yes’ or ‘mostly’ when asked whether CabNet+ enabled more timely and secure access to Cabinet information while creating an efficient and collaborative platform. Further, 95 per cent of respondents answered ‘yes’ or ‘mostly’ when asked whether the CabNet+ system met their business needs and streamlined the way they work.

Results: Key Activity 5.3

Key activity

Measure

Target

Provide expert advice to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, Portfolio Ministers, PM&C and other APS agencies on governance matters relating to the operation of the executive branch of Government.

High-quality expert advice is provided to the Prime Minister on governance matters.

All machinery or ministerial changes are properly supported by sound advice and successfully implemented.

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–2023, pp. 16–17

Result

Achieved

Methodology

Evaluation through case study

Analysis

In 2019–20, PM&C’s expert advice to the Prime Minister, the Cabinet, Portfolio Ministers and APS agencies was critical to the success of the Government’s machinery of government changes, announced in December 2019.

PM&C’s achievements against this measure

PM&C’s high-quality advice and support across government resulted in the largest structural change to the APS in more than 30 years: eight departments were consolidated into four, reducing the overall number of departments from 18 to 14. (Refer to the following case study).

Case study: APS machinery of government changes

On 5 December 2019, the Prime Minister announced significant structural change to the APS, reducing the number of departments from 18 to 14. These changes formed part of the Government’s APS reform agenda, 'Delivering for Australians', announced on 13 December 2019.

The Government wants to see congestion-busting in the bureaucracy and an APS that is focused on delivering for all Australians, including delivering services seamlessly and efficiently. These changes ensured that the APS had clear direction and delivered better services on the ground for the Australian people.

PM&C worked to identify the most efficient and effective way to implement the Prime Minister’s decisions on changes to departmental structure. We supported the Prime Minister’s announcement on 5 December 2019 and, in consultation with the Department of Finance and the Australian Public Service Commission, led the implementation of the machinery changes. We coordinated the delivery of information across government and to the affected parts of the APS about timing and implementation arrangements for the new structure. We also supported the Prime Minister, the Secretary of PM&C and the APS Commissioner with consequential changes to appointments of departmental secretaries.

On 1 February 2020, eight departments were consolidated into four: the Department of Education, Skills and Employment; the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment; the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources; and the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications. The department formerly known as Services Australia (previously the Department of Human Services) was established as an executive agency within the Social Services portfolio.

These machinery of government changes, which were the largest structural reforms to the APS in 30 years, were implemented effectively and within the recommended time frames.

As the Prime Minister announced, the changes to the departments were a structural measure to better align and bring together functions within the APS so that it can support, protect and serve more Australians. The APS reform agenda put Australians at the heart of government and ensured that the APS remained one of the best in the world.

Results: Key Activity 5.4

Key activity

Measure

Target

Provide clear and actionable advice on whole-of-government legal risk.

Significant legal matters and associated risks are identified and coordinated with the Attorney-General’s Department.

The Prime Minister and his Office have timely and comprehensive visibility of whole-of-government legal risks as they emerge.

Whole-of-government legal risks are identified and mitigated to the greatest extent possible.

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–2023, pp. 16–17

Result

Achieved

Methodology

Evaluation through performance analysis and feedback in the stakeholder survey

Analysis

In 2019–20, PM&C worked in close partnership with the Attorney-General’s Department and relevant portfolio agencies to manage and provide visibility of whole‑of‑government legal risks.

PM&C’s achievements against this measure

The stakeholder survey provided a very positive assessment of the advice on whole-of-government legal risk that PM&C provided.

Stakeholder feedback strongly agreed that PM&C advice was timely and comprehensive in providing visibility of whole‑of‑government legal risks as they emerged and that PM&C’s perspective was helpful.

Results: Key Activity 5.5

Key activity

Measure

Target

Increase awareness of Australia’s honours system.

Public awareness of honours system is increased through social and traditional media campaigns, focusing on those segments of society which are under-represented in awards.

Increase diversity in Australian honours nominations including:

  • diversity of levels and geographical spread in PSM awards
  • women and other under-represented groups for awards in the Order of Australia

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–2023, pp. 16–17

Result

Achieved

Methodology

Evaluation through data and case study

Analysis

In 2019–20, PM&C worked with stakeholders to encourage gender parity and greater diversity of nominations for Australian honours. Social and traditional media campaigns were used to seek insight into the public’s perception of the honours system and to provide greater awareness to the community on how to nominate someone for an Australian honour.

PM&C’s achievements against this measure

Over the last 12 months, the number of awards of the Public Service Medal has almost reached parity in terms of awards to female public servants, non-SES staff and staff not located in the ACT.

PM&C successfully provided secretariat support to the Public Service Medal Committee, which selects recipients based on merit. PM&C also supported Government House in relation to Order of Australia awards. (Refer to the following case study).

Case study: Honours awareness—South Australia

Diversity outcomes, particularly moves towards gender parity, have improved in relation to the Order of Australia award.

Increasing diversity in award nominations leads to more diversity amongst award recipients. As nominations for this award are community generated, PM&C undertook a range of activities to encourage diversity in nominations. For example, PM&C worked with the Office of the Governor of South Australia to showcase South Australian honours recipients, particularly women, to encourage gender balance in the award nominations.

PM&C representatives attended the September 2019 honours investiture ceremonies in Adelaide to interview recipients of traditionally under-represented groups for a social media campaign. The social media campaign was released in the lead-up to the 2020 Australia Day Honours List, when public interest in the awards was high. It featured a number of previous Order of Australia recipients and His Excellency the Hon Hieu Van Le AC, Governor of South Australia, in video and slide compilations posted on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook channels.

The stories and contributions of inspirational Australians were captured to motivate people to make nominations. Some of the extraordinary Australians featured were Mrs Faith Thomas AM, who received the award for service to cricket and the Indigenous community; Ms Kylie Mines OAM, for service to disabled people in the Asia-Pacific region; Mr Timothy Grieger OAM, for service to the agricultural show sector; Ms Natasha Stott Despoja AO, for distinguished service to the global community as an advocate for gender equality; and Mr Brian Edwards OAM, for service to lifesaving.

Through engagement with social media posts, we gained insights into public perceptions of the honours system. We found that people saw the importance of using the Order of Australia to recognise exceptional contributions to the nation. We also found a widespread view that it was important for the contribution of women and of people from other under-represented groups to be reflected in the diversity of honours recipients.

The campaign contributed to a greater understanding of how to nominate someone for an award in the Order of Australia and raised awareness that the honours system relies on community-generated nominations. It also demonstrated how, in recognising outstanding individuals for their service, Australian honours represent our values as a nation.

Results: Key Activity 5.6

Key activity

Measure

Target

Ensure the Department has a high-performance culture underpinned by a strengths-based approach to performance.

PM&C staff provide high-quality outcomes and support.

Performance is assessed on delivery of outcomes along with PM&C specific capabilities and behaviours.

The Department’s new performance framework is implemented and operating effectively.

High performance is recognised and linked to access to opportunities.

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–2023, pp. 16–17

Result

Partially achieved

Methodology

Evaluation through use of 2019 APS Employee Census results as benchmarks with 2020 Pulse Survey to provide comparison. Both surveys have good completion rates (over 60 per cent response rates).

Analysis

The Department’s new performance framework was partially implemented in 2019–20. Due to impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, some elements of the implementation were postponed. The identification of high performers element was postponed until the next performance cycle to ensure a considered and flexible approach to performance appraisals.

As a result, detailed analysis of the framework’s effectiveness was delayed and will be informed by the APS Employee Census in October 2020. However, the PM&C Pulse Survey results provided an early indication of likely achievement of both targets.

Results: Key Activity 5.7

Key activity

Measure

Target

Advance Australia’s interests through effective and well-executed programs for the Prime Minister’s overseas engagements and for incoming visits by Heads of State and Government.

PM&C coordinates and delivers high-quality operational support for the Prime Minister’s official overseas engagements and for Guests of Government.

The operational arrangements for the Prime Minister’s international outgoing visit program are delivered to a high standard and advance Australia’s international interests.

The Guest of Government program for incoming visits is delivered to the satisfaction of our guests, the Prime Minister and the Governor-General.

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–2023, pp. 16–17

Result

Achieved

Methodology

Evaluation of reports generated from the Record of Activities database and through case studies

Analysis

In 2019–20, PM&C demonstrated high-quality operational support and service delivery in the planning, coordination and delivery of the Prime Minister’s official overseas visits and incoming visits by Heads of State and Government. PM&C coordinated complex logistical arrangements, enabling successful visits and policy outcomes.

PM&C’s achievements against this measure

PM&C saw a 33 per cent increase in the Guest of Government visits program and a 94 per cent increase in the events program including virtual meetings compared with 2018–19.

The pandemic and the closing of international borders paused international travel and Guest of Government visits. However, PM&C managed two virtual meetings with Heads of Government and participated in four virtual meetings relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

PM&C received messages of thanks from key stakeholders for the funerals, events and visits we organised. This indicated a high degree of satisfaction with PM&C’s activities.

The program was delivered within agreed time frames. (Refer to the following case studies).

Case study: State visit by the President of the Republic of Indonesia

His Excellency Mr Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia, visited Canberra from
8 to 10 February 2020. This was the President's fourth visit to Australia. It followed Prime Minister Morrison's visit to Jakarta for the President's inauguration in October 2019.

Australia and Indonesia have a strong and vibrant relationship as neighbours, strategic partners and friends. The aim of the visit was to build on the Indonesia–Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP), deepening cooperation in trade and investment, maritime issues, defence and security, counter-terrorism, cybersecurity, prevention of transnational crime and education.

PM&C collaborated across government in the planning and logistics of the visit for the Governor-General, Prime Minister, visiting delegation and travelling media.

President Widodo and Prime Minister Morrison agreed on a plan of action for the Indonesia–Australia CSP for 2020–2024, with shared commitments across trade and investment, defence, counter-terrorism and people smuggling, maritime issues, education and partnering in regional and international forums. The two leaders announced the completion of domestic processes for the ratification of the Indonesia–Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, which would deepen the economic, trade, and investment relationship. Australia and Indonesia committed to co-deploy for the first time as part of a United Nations peacekeeping operation.

The visit achieved its aim of deepening cooperation between Australia and Indonesia. In his speech to the Australian Parliament, President Widodo said Australia was Indonesia's closest friend, with our two nations sharing a future as anchors of economic development, trade and security in the Indo-Pacific. Following the visit, Prime Minister Morrison remarked that the 'very deep relationship only goes from strength to strength'.

PM&C led the high-quality operational and logistics delivery of the State visit, which ran smoothly and generated significant media coverage. The visit was an example of strong collaboration and coordination across government. PM&C brought together a complex set of policy outcomes, representing more than a year's work by line agencies and the Australian Embassy in Jakarta with Indonesian counterparts. We successfully delivered the program's complex logistical elements including the Annual Leaders' Talks, a meeting with Australian and Indonesian Cabinet ministers, President Widodo's address to members and senators of the Parliament of Australia and a parliamentary luncheon held in the Great Hall. The number of messages and formal letters of thanks received from key stakeholders provided an indication of the level of satisfaction with the Department's work.

The Prime Minister and His Excellency Mr Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia are walking and having a discussion, beside a row of alternating Australian National flags and Indonesian National flags.
The Prime Minister and His Excellency Mr Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia, leaving the House of Representatives following the President’s address to members and senators of the Parliament of Australia—the first address from an Indonesian President to the Australian Parliament in a decade. Credit: Auspic

Case study: Official visits and events

In 2019–20, the Prime Minister undertook a number of important overseas visits to participate in multilateral forums and to further enhance Australia's bilateral relationships. PM&C successfully supported a total of seven prime ministerial overseas visits to eight nations over 28 days. The Prime Minister visited:

  • Tuvalu (Pacific Island Forum) (14–16 August 2019)
  • Vietnam and France (G7) (22–28 August 2019)
  • Timor-Leste (30–31 August 2019)
  • United States of America (United Nations General Assembly) (19–27 September 2019)
  • Fiji (11–12 October 2019)
  • Indonesia (20–21 October 2019)
  • Thailand (East Asia Summit) (3–5 November 2019).

PM&C also successfully delivered the incoming Guests of Government program. The Department managed a number of visits to Australia by both Heads of State and Heads of Government.

This year's program included:

  • visits by Heads of State from Israel and Indonesia, with the Indonesian visit including President Widodo’s address to members and senators of the Parliament and a parliamentary luncheon
  • visits by Heads of Government from Cook Islands, Fiji, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Solomon Islands
  • ministerial-level visits from the United States of America.

PM&C managed two virtual meetings with Heads of Government (India and Singapore) and participated in four virtual meetings relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department managed 107 airport facilitations for Heads of State and Heads of Government who were transiting or making private visits to Australia.

In addition to the official hospitality provided during Guest of Government visits, PM&C successfully delivered another 15 events in support of the Prime Minister, which was a significant increase on last year's number. These included:

  • COAG meetings and related hospitality events in Cairns and Western Sydney
  • events related to the parliamentary condolence motion on the 2019–2020 Australian bushfires
  • hospitality for the 2019–2020 test cricket teams from Australia and New Zealand, and the Prime Minister's XI cricket match
  • receptions for the national finalists for the Australian of the Year Awards, the swearing-in of the new Governor-General, and the Prime Minister's Christmas Reception.

PM&C also coordinated a State Funeral for the Hon Timothy Fischer AC in Albury, New South Wales.

Key stakeholders provided positive feedback on the quality of service delivered by PM&C in managing these visits and events.

30 Finalists of the Australian of the Year Awards are pictured at the Lodge, the primary official residence of the Prime Minister, located in Canberra.
Australian of the Year Finalists 2020 at the Lodge, Canberra. Credit: Auspic

Results: Key Activity 5.8

Key activity

Measure

Target

Use technology and automation to streamline ministerial support services.

Timely registration of ministerial correspondence and provision of timely high-quality speechwriting and meeting support.

All ministerial correspondence is registered within three working days.

Meeting support and speechwriting provided to the satisfaction of stakeholders.

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–2023, pp. 16–17

Result

Timely registration of ministerial correspondence

Achieved

Provision of timely high-quality speechwriting

Achieved

Provision of timely high-quality meeting support

Achieved

Methodology

Timely registration of ministerial correspondence

The Department's parliamentary workflow system, the Parliamentary Document Management System, is used to track the volume of incoming correspondence and the timeliness of items being registered and allocated for appropriate action.

Provision of timely high-quality speechwriting

All speech and messages requests are tracked. Any written or oral feedback received from stakeholders is noted and saved.

Provision of timely high-quality meeting support

Meeting support timeliness (board and committee papers delivered on time and to a high standard) and stakeholder feedback are tracked.

Analysis

Timely registration of ministerial correspondence

In 2019–20, PM&C was impacted by a surge in incoming ministerial correspondence. From 1 January to 20 May 2020, PM&C received 88,586 pieces of correspondence—an increase of 568 per cent compared with the same period in 2019.

PM&C’s achievements against this measure

Of the 151,583 items of ministerial correspondence received over the reporting period, 91,047 (60%) were registered within the target of three working days. The remaining 60,536 (40%) were registered four or more working days after receipt, being outside the target of the three days. (Refer to the case study).

Provision of timely high-quality speechwriting

In 2019–20, PM&C’s speechwriters delivered timely and high-quality speechwriting support. Message requests remained steady, and 2019–20 saw a small increase on the previous year.

PM&C’s achievements against this measure

Feedback from stakeholders was strongly positive. (Refer to the case study)

Provision of timely high-quality meeting support

In 2019–20, PM&C’s informal review of the functional support provided for meetings identified some gaps in strategic alignment across committees and the Department’s broader priorities; and delays in providing critical stakeholders with information such as meeting material, which led to less meaningful discussion. The Governance Secretariat team has undergone an improvement exercise in the past six months, focusing on increasing stakeholder engagement and strategic support. As a direct result of these changes, feedback indicated that meeting papers and minutes have improved, leading to more productive meetings. The team is now more focused on planning and strategy and on being known as more responsive.

PM&C’s achievements against this measure

Feedback from critical stakeholders identified an overall improvement in productive and strategic alignment within the meetings. This coupled with the timely delivery of papers of consistent quality indicated our achievement against this measure.

Over the past six months the Governance Secretariat team supported an increased number of meetings across the Department and Shared Services clients with a reduced footprint due to the need to realign resourcing to accommodate the Department’s business continuity response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Case study: 2020 correspondence workflows

From 1 January to 20 May 2020, PM&C received 88,856 pieces of correspondence regarding, among other things, the COVID-19 pandemic and the related Government responses announced by the Prime Minister.

Despite this 568 per cent increase on the amount of correspondence received in the same period in 2019, we continued aiming to maintain timely registration of ministerial correspondence.

PM&C swiftly established a surge team to work with the business as usual correspondence staff and process the mountain of correspondence. The team included staff redeployed from across the Department as well as contractors with expertise in the Parliamentary Document Management System and correspondence processing.

PM&C benefited from this by maintaining the integrity of correspondence workflows. The Government and the Prime Minister benefited by being able to provide timely responses to general representations and organisations on current issues.

Between 10 March and 20 May, PM&C processed 60,000 items of correspondence. As at 16 June 2020, the Department had fewer than 500 items yet to be processed. All unprocessed items of correspondence received through the 'Contact your PM' web portal were still within the three working day target for processing.

Timeliness of correspondence reflected on the integrity of key services administered by PM&C.

Case study: Support for the State visit to the United States of America

In September 2019, the PM&C speechwriting team prepared a suite of draft speeches for the Prime Minister's State visit to the United States of America (US). While the speeches delivered were always in the Prime Minister's words, the Department played an important role in coordinating research and preparing drafts for his consideration.

The purpose of the speeches was to articulate and strengthen Australia's enduring relationship with the US and to seek further cooperation in areas like science and space, counter-terrorism, trade and investment.

In close collaboration with International Division, the PM&C Library and the Australian War Memorial, the speechwriting team researched and drafted 13 speeches for the eight-day visit, as well as a reading pack of prime ministerial and presidential speeches from past visits going back to the 1960s. The speeches drafted by the team included high-profile addresses to the UN, NASA and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs; and official toasts at a State Lunch and State Dinner.

This work supported the Prime Minister in the delivery of well-researched, thoughtfully crafted and factually accurate speeches that reflected the history, depth and resilience of the Australia–US alliance. The speeches supported the Prime Minister's accomplishment of Australia's diplomatic, scientific, strategic, and trade objectives for the trip, which in turn helped strengthen and deepen the partnership between our two nations. The Australian public reaped strategic, economic, social and cultural advantages from this enduring alliance.

The trip was considered a success and enhanced the relationship between Australia and the US. Our speechwriting team received very positive feedback from the Prime Minister's Office, and was included in a joint Secretary's Award for Excellence in Delivery for its role in supporting the trip. The team also received praise from Professor Simon Jackman, CEO of the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. He wrote, 'The visit helped to reaffirm and recommit to the foundations of our relationship with the US. On this dimension Morrison excelled. His speechwriters deserve credit and Morrison's delivery was perfect'.

The draft speeches PM&C prepared for the Prime Minister helped him represent Australia with clarity, confidence and eloquence on the world stage with our most important ally. They articulated Australia's interests, values, history and character and the strength, extent and potential of our partnership with the United States of America.

The Prime Minister is wearing a black cap with the American eagle and a kangaroo and the word ‘mateship’ on it. He stands in front of a microphone, smiling. There is a row of American National flags behind him.
Prime Minister Morrison during his State visit to the United States. Credit: AAP

Results: Key Activity 5.9

Key activity

Measure

Target

Result

Analysis

Provide leadership to the APS on designing, delivering and scaling policies and services using innovative and rigorous tools including data, digitisation and behavioural insights.

PM&C enables whole-of-government collaboration to facilitate good policy development and better service delivery, including by using integrated data through the Data Integration Partnership for Australia (DIPA).

30 agencies using integrated data and DIPA data assets

Achieved

In 2019–20, PM&C provided leadership by assisting agencies to better collaborate on expanding and using integrated data. During this period the tool, Data at Your Desk, continued to open up previously inaccessible data resources, contributing to improved policy development.

PM&C’s achievements against this measure

Approximately 80 Commonwealth and state/territory agencies and universities used integrated data and DIPA data assets over the three years of DIPA.

The target was met through DIPA funding to expand integrated data and improve access to this data. (Refer to the case study).

Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government (BETA) continues to contribute to the delivery of the Government’s key priorities through the application of behavioural economics and rigorous evaluation

15 advisory and evaluation projects completed.

2000 APS employees participate in behavioural insights capability program.

Partially achieved

In 2019–20, BETA continued to make contributions to the Government’s key priorities.

As an example, BETA redirected resources to respond quickly to the Government’s and National COVID-19 Coordination Commission’s (NCCC’s) priority of providing businesses with an intuitive planning tool in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Refer to the case study).

This tool was downloaded more than 26,000 times. The information and guidance has enabled businesses to continue operating during the different stages of the lockdown, while ensuring the safety of their staff and customers.

Face-to-face events were not possible for several months in 2020 due to COVID-19, forcing scheduled events to be postponed.

PM&C’s achievements against this measure

PM&C completed 29 advisory and evaluation projects.

The behavioural insight capability program had around 1,600 participants from more than 40 APS agencies. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the initial target was on track to be achieved. This is the reason for partial achievement of this measure.

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–2023, pp. 16–17

Methodology

Evaluation through data and case study

Case study: Data at Your Desk

Australian Government data is frequently hard to access. This limits policy officers' ability to use it to inform policy development and program management. To address this, PM&C’s Central Analytics Hub set out to build a tool that allows policy officers to tap into data from multiple agencies using a single, easy-to-use interface.

The project involved building a desktop interface in Microsoft Power BI to tap into granular data held by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Department of Social Services, using privacy-preserving technologies. Inside Power BI, data is transformed into a user-friendly interface that allows for in-depth exploration of payments and demographic information that would otherwise be difficult to access and draw insights from.

The resulting tool, Data at Your Desk, was released last year. It allowed users to dynamically visualise and analyse data related to government-funded social services, social security payments and more. Policy officers in PM&C without specific data training now have safe, privacy-preserving access to a range of complex and sensitive datasets from other agencies. Before Data at Your Desk, policy officers had to access, compile and link to multiple sources to generate and analyse data. Data at Your Desk provided an intuitive desktop dashboard that transformed the way they accessed and interacted with payment data and demographic indicators.

In 2019–20, Data at Your Desk continued to open up previously inaccessible data resources. This enriched the advice provided by PM&C, leveraging integrated Data Integration Partnership for Australia data assets and contributing to better policy development.

Data at Your Desk enabled PM&C to improve evidence-driven policy making by turning data insights into actionable advice.

Case study: COVIDSafe business planning tool

Many small and medium-sized businesses were impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions and needed help to understand and navigate new resources and requirements to keep their businesses healthy and safe.

Recognising this need, the Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government (BETA) and the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC) set out to create an intuitive business planning tool that would help businesses to understand their new responsibilities and requirements and make an actionable plan to scale up their business as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

BETA applied behavioural insights to the business planning tool by:

  • making it easy for businesses to identify actions they should take to prepare
  • providing interactive features (like checklists and planning prompts) to help people follow through with their intentions
  • minimising friction costs by linking businesses to reliable websites and other resources for the latest information
  • making complex processes salient and simple to overcome cognitive biases such as status quo bias
  • using positive framing to encourage businesses to seek help.

The COVIDSafe toolkit helped businesses identify where to go for support and information. It encouraged them to plan how to make their businesses safe for customers and staff and how to adapt and prepare for reopening in a different environment. Using the toolkit, businesses were able to develop a clear plan for trading through and after the COVID‑19 pandemic.

The COVIDSafe planning tool was downloaded more than 26,000 times and received positive feedback from peak bodies and industry associations. It was promoted on Australia.gov.au and business.gov.au

By helping businesses keep their staff and customers safe, BETA and NCCC increased consumer and business confidence, which will help our economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Results: Key Activity 5.10

Key activity

Measure

Target

Establish an effective public data sharing framework through the work of the Office of the National Data Commissioner.

The Office of the National Data Commissioner leads reforms to improve data sharing and use across the APS

Reforms are delivered within agreed timelines to the satisfaction of the Minister responsible.

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–2023, pp. 16–17

Result

On track

Methodology

Evaluation through data and case study

Analysis

In 2019–20, the Office of the National Data Commissioner (ONDC) continued to progress the Data Availability and Transparency (DAT) Bill. The DAT Bill will enable effective public data sharing, while strengthening the security and privacy protections for personal and sensitive data.

PM&C’s achievements against this measure

A shift in Government priorities earlier in the year and subsequent redeployment of some ONDC staff to support activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed progress of the DAT Bill.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, ONDC was engaging with the community and key stakeholders on the development of the DAT Bill. This included seeking feedback on the proposed reforms discussion paper and holding 76 roundtables across Australia in September and October 2019. (Refer to the following case study.)

Case study: Developing the Data Availability and Transparency Bill public consultation

The Government holds personal information as well as many other types of data that could be shared for broader benefit, including to prefill forms and make it simpler to access government services. However, legislative and other barriers currently constrain sharing of this data. The Office of the National Data Commissioner (ONDC) is leading a legislative reform process to establish a streamlined mechanism to enable data sharing in a robust and safe way.

In 2019–20, the ONDC consulted widely to develop the Australian Government’s Data Availability and Transparency (DAT) Bill. The DAT Bill represented a significant change in the way the Government handles public sector data, from ‘need to know’ to ‘responsibility to share where there is a clear public benefit’.

In developing this legislation, the ONDC committed to a philosophy of listening, learning and improving to design the data sharing reforms.

In September 2019, the ONDC released a discussion paper on the proposed reforms, informed by feedback from consultations on an issues paper in July and August 2018. As well as inviting submissions on the discussion paper, it held 76 public roundtables around Australia in September and October 2019, attended by more than 600 people, to discuss issues in detail and hear directly from stakeholders. In a follow-up online survey of participants, almost all respondents said that the roundtables had improved their understanding of the DAT Bill.

The ONDC’s strong engagement processes enabled it to understand the concerns and expectations of the community and key stakeholder groups, to refine its policy positions accordingly, and to demonstrate that the reforms are being shaped by community and stakeholder views. Engaging with the public and stakeholders early and closely on the development of the data sharing reforms helped to build greater trust in government policy.

Results: Key Activity 5.11

Key activity

Measure

Target

Deliver high-quality and regular updates to the Prime Minister on implementation of key priorities across Government.

Regular and high-quality updates are provided to the Prime Minister on the delivery of key priorities.

Implementation of a delivery framework to report to the Prime Minister regularly on the Prime Minister’s key priorities.

Source

Corporate Plan 2019–2023, pp. 16–17

Result

Achieved

Methodology

Evaluation through data and tracking achievement of ministerial objective

Analysis

In 2019–20, PM&C’s Priorities and Delivery Unit ensured that departments provided the Prime Minister and the Cabinet with timely progress updates on achieving key priorities.

PM&C’s achievements against this measure

PM&C successfully implemented a delivery framework to monitor key priorities.