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Analysis of performance against Purpose 2: Publication

Relationship between performance measures and Purpose 2

OPC’s second purpose is to “ensure Commonwealth laws and instruments are freely available and accessible to everyone by publishing those laws and instruments on the Federal Register of Legislation website”.

The following background provides information in order to better understand how the performance measures for performance criteria 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 and 2.4 directly relate to this purpose.

How OPC achieves its second purpose

The Publications group achieves the second purpose by:

· managing the Legislation Register;

· registering legislative instruments and lodging them for tabling in the Parliament;

· preparing compilations and information relating to Commonwealth laws;

· publishing Commonwealth legislation and legislative information;

· publishing the Government Notices Gazette;

· proofreading and editorial checking of OPC drafted legislation; and

· developing and operating the whole-of-government Legislation Register website.

Staff have continued to be trained in all the areas of responsibility within the Publications group to allow resources to be better utilised and directed during peak periods. The new role of the Publications Training Officer, introduced in the 2019-2020 financial year, continues to review our training processes for publications officers to ensure that they are streamlined and fit for purpose.

The Legislation Act and Legislation Register

OPC charges an annual fee for standard Legislation Register services based on each agency’s proportion of usage of the Legislation Register. Fees for some agencies have declined over the last 5 years as they continue to change their registration practices. The Legislation Register fees continue to be consistent with the Australian Government Cost Recovery Guidelines and attribute costs that recognise the whole-of-life cost (including IT infrastructure costs) in publishing legislation.

OPC meets the demand for current versions of legislation by providing free online public access to the Legislation Register. Commercially printed copies of versions, if required, can be ordered online using the print-on-demand function on the Legislation Register.

Performance criteria 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 and 2.4

OPC has met all but one of the performance targets for this purpose in 2020-2021.

Methodology for performance criteria 2.1 to 2.4

Performance criteria 2.1 to 2.4 all require a particular publications task to be completed within a specified time period. Most data to calculate the relevant periods of time is automatically recorded by systems such as the date of lodgement for requests to register an instrument or compilation, initial requested date for registration and the registration date. The date of commencement for legislation is manually calculated and checked. Requests by clients to change the date of registration after lodgement but before registration is also recorded manually. All data is exported from systems to a central report for final calculation and manual checking.

Results for performance criteria 2.1 to 2.4

New legislative and notifiable instruments and gazette notices lodged for registration were registered promptly on the Legislation Register.

This year 100% of legislative and notifiable instruments and gazette notices were registered on a specific date as required by lodging entities, meeting the performance target of 100%.

One hundred percent of other legislative and notifiable instruments and gazette notices were registered no later than two business days after lodgement, exceeding the performance target of 98%.

New Acts were registered promptly on the Legislation Register.

One hundred percent of Acts were registered on the Legislation Register no later than two working days after receipt of notification of Royal Assent, exceeding the performance target of 98%.

Sixty eight percent of Act and legislative and notifiable instrument compilations required to be prepared by OPC were registered on the Legislation Register 28 days after commencement of the prospective amendments. This is significantly lower than the performance target of 90%.

Factors influencing performance in relation to performance criteria 2.1 to 2.4

OPC’s performance in relation to performance criteria 2.1 to 2.4 is significantly affected by workloads.

Publishing statistics

The volume of work in 2020-2021, as reflected in the publishing statistics, increased slightly in most areas compared with the volume of work in 2019-2020.

Statistics—Publishing

Registration/Publication

Number of items

Number of pages

2020-2021

2019-2020

2020-2021

2019-2020

Legislative instruments

1,789

1,640

30,876

30,885

Notifiable instruments

240

138

1,004

720

Gazette notices

1,010

1,146

2,437

2,907

Numbered Acts

135

137

4,944

5,214

Act compilations

458

338

338,212

260,914

OPC prepared instrument compilations—budget-funded

333

284

91,329

52,981

OPC prepared instrument compilations—user-pays

446

403

61,987

61,543

Agency prepared instrument compilations

416

338

42,085

35,438

Note: The above statistics relate only to new items. They do not include back-captured or republished historical documents.

Statistics—Legislative (LIs) and Notifiable (NIs) instruments registered and repealed

Year

LIs registered

LIs repealed

NIs registered

NIs repealed

2020-2021

1,789

1,596

240

72

2019-2020

1,640

1,735

138

52

Statistics—Legislation Register website

Year

Total visits

Total unique visits

Total page views

2020-2021

16,451,849

8,022,806

39,435,641

2019-2020

16,555,495

8,337,626

39,799,853

Note: Total unique visits is the number of unduplicated (counted only once) visitors. Total page views is the total number of pages viewed. For page views, repeated views of a single page are counted.

Data acquisition

While not specifically measured by the performance criteria, maintaining high quality data on the Legislation Register is essential to meeting OPC’s second purpose. In addition, it is another factor that influences workloads.

The Publications group has continued to undertake data acquisition projects to make difficult-to-find historical legislative material more accessible.

These projects are complex and time-consuming and are worked on by staff alongside other core business functions.

Of note, the Publications group completed the capture of all commencement entries for historical Acts from 1901 to 2010. There were over 50,000 entries created and researched.

Performance criterion 2.4

The one performance criterion that was not met was performance criterion 2.4. There were several factors that contributed to the lower percentage achieved in the timeliness measure.

Firstly, there was an overall increase in the volume of compilations required to be prepared by OPC. During the financial year there was a 27.2% increase in the number of compilations prepared (791 compilations up from 622 compilations the previous financial year). There was also a 10.7% increase in the number of compilations prepared by OPC on a user-pays basis. Although these user-pays compilations are not included in the measure, an increase in demand for these services draws on the resources available for general compilation services.

In addition to this, there was a large influx of Acts at the end of the Spring 2020 sittings period creating a large peak of work. The number of Acts passed in the Spring sitting period was more than double compared to the same period in the previous year (46 compared with 22). Large influxes of work at one time are difficult to manage, particularly in December and January when there is an increase in staff leave as well as the OPC Christmas shutdown.

One strategy that has been used to manage the flow of work through publications has been cross-training staff. Staff are trained in more than one of Publication’s main areas of work (editorial, registration, compilations and parliamentary co-ordination) so that staff resources can be moved to the area of demand. Generally, this works well when peaks in work shift from one area to another. However, an increase in demand for services in one area has a significant impact on the output for other services. The end of the Spring 2020 sittings coincided with the peak period for registration of instruments on the Legislation Register. Editorial and registration work always take priority over compilations work due to the fixed deadlines in these areas so if there is a shortage of resources, compilations work is assigned a lower priority.

All of these factors had an impact on compilation output and affected this measure.

In response, a number of actions have been taken to improve this output:

· a review of the compilation process and the implementation of a streamlined checking process. Compilations processes will continue to reviewed to find further opportunities;

· an additional recruitment process to increase staff resources; and

· a change to the performance measure from 28 days to 20 working days to give a more useful and accurate measure of performance, particularly over the Christmas shutdown period.