Tool to assess councils’ digital readiness.
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The index is based a taxonomy that applies the five metrics of Attitude, Policy, Strategy, Technology and Metrics across each of the five key functions of local government. For each area, the level of digital maturity is determined. Taking the average ranking across each component provides the overall index, which can also be determined separately for each component. Each technology or methodology within each component can also be compared, providing a complete picture of digital maturity, or “readiness”, by such attributes as size of LGA or which state it is in, to enable a comparison between councils. Further analysis, of the responses to individual questions in the survey, can then identify specific policies or technologies that might be implemented to improve the organisation’s digital maturity in that area. A council can also be benchmarked against itself over time to determine its progress. This is the first time such a methodology has been used in Australia. Government News believes it will offer a valuable insight into the level of digital maturity, and identify the gaps and opportunities. It will also be valuable to the local government industry as whole. Government News will be collating the results in a publicly available report that will identify the overall state of digital readiness of Australia’s Local Government Authorities, and the key issues involved. We welcome your participation. It costs nothing except 20 minutes of your time to compete the survey, and you receive your valuable benchmarking report at no cost. [post_title] => Councils and the digital necessity [post_excerpt] => Tool to assess councils' digital readiness. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => councils-and-the-digital-necessity [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-02-24 10:52:17 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-02-23 23:52:17 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26326 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22764 [post_author] => 664 [post_date] => 2016-12-20 16:29:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-12-20 05:29:00 [post_content] => In the wake of Australia Post's new two-speed letter deliveries, announced earlier this month, we revisit what went wrong. All is not well with Australia Post. It is losing money with the death of the stamped letter. It is making money from parcels, but the numbers don’t add up. Australia Post recently announced a full-year loss of $222 million in 2014-15. It is the first time the organisation has been in the red since it was corporatised in 1989. The reason is clear. Hardly anybody sends letters any more. Personal mail hardly exists in the Internet era, except for Christmas cards, and even they are in serious decline. Business mail has been the mainstay of the postal system in recent years, but is also declining quickly with the move to online invoicing and statements. The decline has been obvious for years, but it has been accelerating, not declining. Last year alone addressed letter volumes fell by 7.3 per cent, with ordinary stamped letters falling by 10.3 per cent, off bases that had already declined sharply. Australians now send a billion fewer letters a year than they did in 2008, when mail was already in serious decline. Australia Post would have got out of this loss-making business years ago if it weren’t for its Community Service Obligation (CSO), a statutory requirement to deliver mail and keep post offices open. For many years the big money has been in its parcel division, now separately branded as StarTrack (Australia Post bought out Qantas’s half share in 2012). The parcels business is booming, in large part because of Australia’s love affair with Internet shopping, which is growing as quickly as ordinary mail is declining. Products can be ordered on the Internet, but someone still has to deliver the things, and Australia Post is doing well in a very competitive market against the likes of FedEx, UPS and Toll (recently acquired by Japan Post). Australia Post is led by Ahmed Fahour, Australia’s highest paid public servant. He was brought in to restructure the organosation, but he is having to balance this against the Community Service Obligation. No Australian government wants to be seen to be cutting postal services. It is a continuing battle, one which will eventually have to confront commercial reality. The numbers are stark. Australia Post’s loss of $222 million last year was an enormous turnaround from its $116 million profit the previous year. Revenue was constant at $6.37 billion, with the parcel business comprising more than half for the first time, up 3.6 per cent to $3.21 billion. Last month Australia Post asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to allow it to increase the price of a stamp by more than 40 per cent, from 70 cents to $1, to “better reflect the cost of the regulated letters service.” The government supports the application, which also. includes keeping the concession stamp price at 60 cents for 5.7 million concession cardholders, and the price of Christmas cards at 65 cents. Concession and season greeting (Christmas) mail comprise nearly half of all mail sent by consumers. The great majority (97 per cent) of regular mail now comes from business and government, with very few personal letters. Last week the Senate approved the reforms, which also include reducing the number of post boxes nationally from over 15,000 to the 10,000 specified by the CSO, and cutting 1900 jobs (from 32,000 current full-time and part-time employees). Regular post will still be delivered every day, but it will be slowed down by up to two days to allow for savings on air freight. It is not certain the changes will be enough to cut the losses. Mr Fahour’s enormous $4.6 million salary will remain, though there may be some cuts to the 400 Australia post managers who earn more than $195,000 a year (a figure from last year’s annual report). Mr Fahour has, unsurprisingly, defended his salary as consistent with that paid to his private sector counterparts. He was formerly CEO of National Australia Bank. “We continue to make headway with reforming our letters business and we are investing in the infrastructure and digital capabilities – vital to servicing the changing needs of our customers,” said Mr Fahour last week. “We are confident we have the resources, infrastructure and support in place to manage the ongoing transition of our letters business as we become a more e-commerce-centric organisation.” Last month Mr Fahour announced the establishment of an industry working group to consider regulatory reform of the letters business and “other strategic issues facing the postal sector.” It follows a Senate Inquiry into the Licensed Post Office network, which recommended the establishment of the group. It will be chaired by former Victorian Liberal Senator Helen Kroger, and will include representatives from the printing industry, mail houses, post office licensees and unions (the Communications Workers Union is the main union covering Australia Post workers). Ms Kroger, married to Victorian Liberal Party powerbroker Michael Kroger, lost her Senate seat at the last federal election to Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party senator Ricky Muir. The Communications Workers Union recognises the need for change, but says reforms should be done “sensibly” and without forced job losses. “It is abundantly clear that the letter side of the business cannot be profitable in its current form,” said CWU National Secretary Greg Rayner after the losses were announced. “The very encouraging part is the parcel side of the business, which is a huge growth area and will see substantial jobs growth in coming years. “The digital disruption to letter volumes we are seeing now is nothing new to Australia Post. The company, its hardworking loyal staff and the CWU have adapted before and will adapt again. “This union was working with Australia Post when it was horses and carts. Our members have transformed it from a network of telegraph wires to one of fibre optics and modern precision logistics. “We are committed to partnering with Australia Post to transform the business again because that’s the only way to guarantee secure, quality jobs for our members and a reliable, useful service for all Australia.” Mr Rayner said with the right approach, these results and the reform they demand lay a path to more jobs, better conditions and greater job security for postal workers. “We have been at the table with Australia Post at the highest level for months now preparing a long term response to reform. In the coming weeks we hope to unveil an Accord to support our members and all Australia Post employees through reform and help guide Australia Post into the future,” Mr Rayner said. Good luck to him, to Mr Fahour, and to the government. It is something of a race against time, and one that Australia Post has been losing thus far. The postal business continues to decline faster than the parcels business is growing – if losses continue expect Mr Fahour to depart (with his millions) and his successor to initiate a new round of restructuring. This story first appeared in Government News magazine in October/November 2015. In January 2016, Australia Post announced it would create a two-speed letter delivery system. Priority letters would cost $1.50 and arrive within one to four business days (depending on the destination), while Regular mail - which increased from 70 cents to $1 - could now arrive up to two business days afterwards, potentially taking more than one week to reach the recipient’s letterbox. [post_title] => Best of 2016: Where to now for Australia Post? [post_excerpt] => Going postal: what went wrong. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => where-to-now-for-australia-post [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-12-20 16:31:08 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-12-20 05:31:08 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=22764 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 6 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 24515 [post_author] => 664 [post_date] => 2016-07-25 17:26:39 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-07-25 07:26:39 [post_content] => Cyber security is big business, and its biggest customers are governments. Asia Pacific’s biggest data security conference has just ended in Singapore, with the emphasis very strongly on the business issues of the technology, rather than the technology itself. The fourth annual Asia Pacific RSA conference was held in Singapore’s cavernous Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre. There were over 5000 attendees and more than a hundred exhibitors. RSA, a subsidiary of software and services giant EMC, is one of the world’s largest cyber security companies. Its conferences are major events. CEO Amit Yoran said in his keynote speech that most chief security officers are reevaluating their security strategies over the next 18 months. “They are doing that because more and more cybersecurity is moving to the boardroom. Executives and boards are asking more questions than ever before. With all the money they have been spending, they want to know the business impact should a breach happen. “CEOs and boards don't care what caused the breach. What they do care about is overall impact to the business. We need to unite the details of security with the language of business. The core of this new perspective on cybersecurity is the need to provide better, more comprehensive insights than legacy tools and systems can provide. We call this business-driven security.” Government News asked Mr Yoran how this change of emphasis was affecting government. “This is just as true in the public sector,” he said. “It’s about having enough data to make the right analysis. Enterprises need to think about their return on investment, and governments about their ability to achieve their objectives.” Cyber security has become a major focus for the Turnbull government. The recently announced ministry includes for the first time a portfolio, or at least a job title, that uses the phrase. Dan Tehan, member for Malcolm Fraser’s old seat of Wannon and former chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, is now Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security. He is also Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC, and Minister for Defence Personnel, a grab-bag of responsibilities that at least indicate that the government is taking cyber security seriously. In April Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull released the government’s $230 million Cyber Security strategy, and there now exists an Australian Cyber Security Centre to coordinate activity between government and industry. The strategy will include the new role of Cyber Ambassador, who will “lead Australia’s international engagement in advocating for an open, free and secure internet, based on our values of free speech, privacy and the rule of law.” The Cyber Ambassador, who has not yet been appointed, will work with regional and global partners to combat cybercrime and share threat information. A willing regional partner will be Singapore, with which Australia has strong defence ties – the island nation’s army and air force do much of their training in Australia. At the RSA conference Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam announced a National Cybercrime Action Plan, with new legislation to be introduced in 2017. “The plan is a coordinated effort to fight cybercrime – to take an approach to really deter, detect and disrupt cybercriminal activity and to create a safe and secure online environment in Singapore, as far as possible,” he said. He outlined four key principles: “First, prevention. Second, a quick, strong response to cybercrime. Third, making sure that the legal framework is robust, and fourth, this cannot be done by us alone. It has got to be done in partnership, so it is a shared responsibility.” He made special mention of Interpol’s Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI), which is based in Singapore and acts as the organisation’s global hub on cyber crime. He did not mention Australia by name, but made it clear that by shared responsibility he meant relationships with industry and with other governments. [Graeme Philipson travelled to Singapore as a guest of RSA.] [post_title] => Government shifting cyber security emphasis [post_excerpt] => Cyber security is big business, and its biggest customers are governments. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => government-shifting-cyber-security-emphasis [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-07-25 17:28:54 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-07-25 07:28:54 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=24515 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 2 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22682 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-01-12 10:59:17 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-01-11 23:59:17 [post_content] => ICAC Megan Latham, Commissioner, Independent Commission Against Corruption, New South Wales. In addition to investigating and exposing corruption, the principal functions of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption are to prevent corruption and educate people about the detrimental effects of corruption. These functions are set out in the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988. On a practical level, this means examining the laws, practices and procedures of public authorities and public officials, educating, advising and assisting public authorities and the community on ways corrupt conduct may be minimised, and enlisting and fostering public support in combating corrupt conduct. The anti-corruption strategy of the state is better viewed as building community and sector resistance to corruption through the interrelated elements of deterrence, education and assistance. The ICAC has been busy carrying out these activities since it began its operations in 1989. In the past year alone, for example, the ICAC has made more than 100 anti-corruption presentations at public sector and community events. It has also delivered some 85 face-to-face training seminars across public sector and local government to more than 4,500 people. This training ranges from five-day senior executive programs and half-day workshops to community breakfasts across the state. The ICAC also provides an advice service whereby public officials can contact us to request advice on their practices, procedures and anti-corruption measures. Through this service, the ICAC provided advice on more than 130 occasions over the past year. We encourage public officials to use this service by calling us on 02 8281 5999. An important part of the work of the ICAC is to conduct analyses of significant areas of corruption risk in the public sector. Reports are published and distributed across the sector that aim to assist managers to find the best way to prevent corruption without damaging the efficient and effective conduct of their core business. In recent times, these reports have covered risks in accounts payable, planning, IT contracting, procurement, international student operations in universities, and the funding of non-government organisations to deliver human services. All are available on the ICAC website at www.icac.nsw.gov.au Federal corruption watchdog elementary for Watson SC Julian Bajkowski The silk who made his name as Senior Counsel Assisting the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), Geoffrey Watson SC, has renewed public calls from the legal fraternity for the establishment of a so-called federal ICAC, arguing that Canberra is far from immune to corruption. Mr Watson made the call during speech for the Cranlana Programme 2015 Alumni Speaker Series, questioning whether Australians are “willing to accept corruption as just part of the price of doing business in Australia?” “I call upon our government in Canberra to create a strong and independent federal anti-corruption commission,” Mr Watson said. “I concede that such a call made by a person such as me is weak, but I am not alone. Others who have made a similar call include some of the most respected judges, politicians, law reformers and crime fighters in our country.” Noting that “the prospects of a federal ICAC in the foreseeable future are rising”, Mr Watson said the federal government should “commit to the establishment of a comprehensive independent integrity system for the whole of the Commonwealth, incorporating a general purpose federal anti-corruption agency.” His plea follows similar calls by former NSW ICAC Commissioner David Ipp upon stepping down from his role. However Mr Watson cautioned that any such federal organisation needed sufficient powers and must operate out in the open rather than being bound by secrecy provisions such as those in South Australia. “If you are going to set up a federal anti-corruption commission, but you wish the commission to conduct its investigations and inquiries in secret, then don't bother,” Mr Watson said. The eminent silk also lambasted the idea that there was no need for a federal anti-corruption role, quipping that it would make the national capital the only place in Australia and indeed the world to be corruption free. Lack of political courage from the major parties also came in for a lashing with Mr Watson characterising the national debate on corruption as somewhere between “thoughtful consideration to party-political blockheadedness.” Any idea that there is insufficient money for the proposed new function was given similarly short swift. “If we can afford to have a federal windfarm commissioner, then surely we could also look at getting a federal anti-corruption commissioner,” Mr Watson said. To read Mr Watson’s speech go to: http://ab.co/1LiDLMM Governance Fresh eyes on Australia’s spies Julian Bajkowski The powerful and secretive organisation tasked with probing Australia’s spy agencies to keep them inside the law has a new head. Hon Margaret Stone, previously the federal government’s Independent Reviewer of Adverse Security Assessments and a former Federal Court Judge has been appointed the new Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS), replacing highly respected outgoing chief, Vivienne Thom. The role of the Office of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (OIGIS) remains one of the most highly sensitive in terms of security in the government because it has the power to investigate intelligence agencies off its own bat, as well as conducting regular annual audits to ensure covert surveillance and collection activities stay between the lines. It’s a dynamic and often unpredictable environment given recent issues that include accusations Australia bugged Timorese government facilities during resources negotiations, the death of Australian Israeli citizen Ben Zygier in jail in Israel and the Defence personnel security vetting scandal where whistle blowers revealed that outsourcers fudged background checks. The IGIS’ extensive annual reports have also shown-up sometimes comical aspects of sypcraft gone awry, like the October 2014 revelation that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation had accidently bugged itself. “ASIO intercepted, without warrant, calls made from one of its own regional offices due to a technical error. The data was deleted and processes put in place to ensure it does not happen again,” the IGIS’ last annual report noted. The Prime Minister used the announcement of a new head for the OIGIS to emphasise that “the Australian intelligence community operates within a robust oversight and accountability framework, and the Inspector-General plays an important role in reviewing the activities of the intelligence agencies.” Mr Abbott also paid tribute to Dr Thom whose term as Inspector-General, saying she had carried out her role “with diligence and integrity”. VIC Auditor warns of ‘eroding mandate’ Graeme Philipson Outspoken Victorian Auditor-General John Doyle has tabled his office’s Annual Plan for 2015-16, saying the document will help address “significant concerns” that the key legislation for the office is out of date and that his mandate is being “eroded.” Mr Doyle said the plan is a key accountability mechanism which ensures his office’s program during the year is flexible and responsive, adding it was developed “through matching key issues detected through ongoing scanning with resources.” But the Auditor-General cautioned that “there are more audits listed than we can do.” Mr Doyle, who was appointed by the former Coalition state government in 2013, has been outspoken in his criticism both of that Government and its ALP successor. “I am again calling for a rewrite of the Audit Act 1994. This includes the inclusion of an appropriate level of follow-the-dollar powers.” Mr Doyle called for a rewrite before the state election, held in November 2014. He said just before the election the 20-year-old Audit Act had failed to keep up with changes in the way the Government was spending its money, particularly in regard to public-private partnerships (PPPs). “The world has changed, with governments now using contracts and partnerships to deliver many services funded by taxpayers’ money,” he said then. “And yet, this money and the services it funds remain off radar, simply because Victoria’s audit legislation has not been updated. This means Victorian citizens are prevented from knowing how well their money is being spent.” This story first appeared in Government News magazine in October/November 2015 and was written by Hon Megan Latham, Commissioner, Independent Commission Against Corruption, New South Wales. [post_title] => Educating against corruption [post_excerpt] => The work of ICAC. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => educating-against-corruption [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-01-12 11:00:42 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-01-12 00:00:42 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=22682 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22647 [post_author] => 664 [post_date] => 2016-01-11 17:37:08 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-01-11 06:37:08 [post_content] => Government fleets are undergoing massive changes. New technologies, policy reversals and the end of Australian manufacturing are shaking up the sector as never before. Graeme Philipson and Marie Sansom investigate. Australia’s public sector is the largest buyer of vehicles in Australia. Of the 1.25 million new vehicles sold in Australia last year, over 50,000 were bought by agencies and authorities at all levels of government. And that doesn’t count those bought by individuals who work for governments, who acquired their vehicles as part of a salary package through a novated lease. The massive size of the government vehicle business gives the sector a range of characteristics that set it apart from other vehicles sales. But the sector is changing significantly, affected by changes in technology, economics and government policy. One of the biggest changes will be the end of vehicle manufacturing in Australia. At one stage Australia had six major car manufacturers, a number now down to three – Holden, Ford and Toyota. In the last year all of them have announced the end of manufacturing in Australia – Ford by the end of 2016 and Holden and Toyota by the end of 2017. The Department of Finance has had a policy since 2012 that Commonwealth departments and agencies must lease or buy Australian-made cars wherever possible, exceptions being vehicles used for national security or law enforcement. At state level, there are wide variations in the proportion of Australian-made vehicles in each fleet. For example, three-quarters of Queensland’s state government fleet was manufactured overseas in 2013. In comparison, VicFleet, which manages the Victorian government’s standard motor vehicle policy, stipulates that only vehicles substantially manufactured in Australia should be leased or bought, although it recognises that fleet managers looking for small cars will have to go elsewhere. In fact, all levels of government in Australia have been buying small cars from overseas for a while now because the Australian motor industry no longer makes them, the smallest being the medium-sized Holden Cruze. With the demise of local manufacturing and the policies that relate to it government departments and agencies will soon have a much wider range of models to choose from for their medium-sized and larger vehicles too. But not yet. Cars are still being made in Australia. A Victorian Government list of vehicles approved for executive salary packaging, updated as recently as August 2015, is still limited to Australian-made vehicles. The ‘prestige’ category is limited to the Holden Calais, Ford Territory (the high-end Titanium mode), and Toyota’s Aurion Presara and Camry Atara SL. There follows a list of ‘upmarket’ and ‘base’ models – all of them Australian made Fords, Holdens and Toyotas. The continuation of the ‘Buy Australian’ policy in the face of the impending shutdown of the local industry has some fleet managers concerned. It is an axiom of sound financial management that the purchase of vehicles late in their lifecycle be avoided, because of the low resale value of discontinued models. But in this case misplaced economic patriotism has trumped financial prudence. But gaps are appearing. Last year the Commonwealth ordered nine armour-plated BMW 7 series high-security sedans for use by politicians and visiting dignitaries, replacing the ageing fleet of Holden Caprices. They cost $525,000 – each – but that was justified on the basis that no bulletproof cars were made in Australia. Holden said it could have supplied custom-made cars cheaper, but had not been asked to tender.
Cars of the worldIt is a precursor of what is to come. When government fleet buyers are released from the obligation of having to appear to do the right thing by buying Australian, they will have the same choice that private fleet buyers and individuals have had for many years. Indeed, it is that wider choice that has been one of the drivers of the demise of the Australian car industry. Long lauded by manufacturers as one of the eight or so countries in the world that could manufacture cars from the ground up, from initial concept and design through to when they rolled off the production line, Australian vehicle manufacturing became increasingly uncompetitive, at the same time that economies of scale and improved manufacturing techniques have seen the average cost of imported vehicles plummet. The high tariff walls protecting the Australian industry were progressively dismantled, starting with the Button Plan in the 1980s. The public voted with their wallets and imported cars became the norm in Australia, with locally made cars suffering a declining market share that finally proved terminal. Successive governments propped up the industry with grants and tax breaks, but they finally had enough. The public also stopped caring, and the final decision by the three companies to withdraw from local production was met with comparatively little opposition. There was almost a collective sigh of relief. Public sector fleet buyers and managers will face a number of new strategic challenges in the wake of what will be the biggest market shake-up in decades. The choice of vehicles and plant has never been greater as new competitors from Korea, Europe and now Indian and China all vie for the public sector market and seek to make their mark. Cars will be cheaper, but with a much larger range of models, maintenance will become a bigger issue. There is a lot of business in government fleet sales. The largest fleet is that of the NSW Government, which owns or leases over 25,000 vehicles – 4000 of them in the police force alone. The Commonwealth fleet contains over 12,000 vehicles – 7000 passenger vehicles (including SUVs) and over 5000 light and heavy commercial vehicles. Half are leased and half are owned. Victoria’s VicFleet has nearly 10,000 vehicles. The other states all have fleets roughly in proportion to their populations, and most local government authorities have their own fleets. Brisbane City Council, by far the largest LGA in Australia, has 3800 vehicles. There are well over 200,000 vehicles in government fleets around Australia.
Why have a government fleet at all?There are other significant challenges facing the industry besides the end of ‘Buy Australian’. Indeed, the very concept of a government vehicle fleet is under question and nowhere more so than in NSW after Finance Minister Dominic Perrotet signed StateFleet’s death warrant in August. Statefleet, which was formed in 1990 to bring together the disparate fleets owned or managed by various departments and agencies, operates within the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation. It provides services such as advice on salary packaging, the SmartPool pooling system, ExtraCar (a short term car rental system), and the sales of ex-fleet vehicles. StateFleet will be disbanded around mid-2016 and the state’s government agencies will instead deal directly with a panel of private fleet leasing and management companies. Mr Perrottet has said that the new procurement model would save $1 billion in capital over four years from axing StateFleet’s armada of passenger and light commercial vehicles, which will be gradually wound down. Mr Perrottet said the current model cost around $240 million annually to implement. “Today the NSW Government spends hundreds of millions of dollars buying, owning and maintaining one of the biggest car fleets in the country,” Mr Perrottet said. “I’d like to see this capital freed up and invested in frontline services and productive infrastructure. “Our new fleet management model features a diversity of supply options that will improve service quality, make use of car-sharing and drive value for taxpayer money. “The Government shouldn’t be competing with the private sector for fleet leasing and management services,” Mr Perrottet said. “This arrangement will be more cost effective, increase competition and allow government to access best practice in fleet management.” The government is also proposing to use car-share companies like GoGet in metro areas as an alternative to government pool cars in a bid to save money. The new model represents a fundamental shift away from securing big buy price discounts from manufacturer and dealers for bulk purchasing towards shorter-term, demand-driven services that widens options for the public service and lets the private sector in on the action. Executive Director of Australasian Fleet Management Association, Mace Hartley, said that some of the Association’s government members managed their fleets in-house, some outsourced them and others ran them under hybrid arrangements: there was no clear winner. “The decision to adopt one over another is often dependent on the knowledge base and expertise within the organisation, including access to systems etc,” Mr Hartley said. “The ultimate goal of any organisation is to run an efficient and cost effective fleet that fulfills the needs of the organisation in a safe and environmentally friendly way. “It’s worth noting you can’t outsource your workplace health and safety obligations so regardless of who manages your fleet, the organisation is still responsible.” He said that opening fleet management to the private sector and sparking competition could lead to cost savings but it should also be remembered that fleet leasing and management companies aimed to make a profit. The Commonwealth outsourced the management of its fleet to private operator sgfleet under the Howard Government and it remains majority owned by South African logistics company Super Group. In its first full year of operation as a listed company it showed a revenue increase of 9.5 per cent, to $171.4 million, with profits up 14.4 per cent. There is indeed money in fleet leasing. Western Australia outsourced its fleet management to Westfleet, part of Matrix Group, in 1996. It seems that government-owned vehicles are an endangered species in Australia.
The technological imperativeThe outsourcing trend is only partially being driven by an ideological push towards privatisation by conservative governments. Technology is also playing its part. The rise of services like GoGet and Uber are being enabled by the disruptive nature of the Internet, which is also ‘disintermediating’ many other industries. The examples are legion. Music and video publishing and distribution, retailing, the replacement of news with social media – we are in the midst of a revolution. The old leasing models are also being challenged. The Commonwealth gives improved technology as one of the reasons for a reduction in the size of its fleet. “The size of the fleet is reducing, partially because of improved usage analytics and lifecycle management,” said a spokesperson in the Department of Finance, who was reluctant to go into too much detail about the many challenges facing the industry. (Government News had some difficulty getting anyone to go on the record for this article, such is the sensitive nature of many of the issues surrounding fleet management in the public sector. Large amounts of money and not a few careers are at stake). Analytics has been one of the key trends in the ICT industry in recent years. It is allied to the concept of ‘big data’ –many industries now have much more information at their disposal, thanks to the ubiquity of Internet-based communications. The so-called ‘Internet of Things’ is tailor-made for fleet management, with GPS location based applications and sensors delivering information on everything from petrol consumption to driver behaviour to route optimisation. A major industry has grown up around using the technology to squeeze maximum efficiency out of every asset. Motor vehicles, which are expensive and fast-depreciating items with many components and a relatively short lifespan, are prime targets for lifecycle management techniques made possible by the use of big data and improved analytics. Two leading companies in this market are Fleetmatics and Fleet Analytics. Dublin-based Fleetmatics has a significant Australian presence since its 2013 acquisition of Sydney-based Connect2Field, which had developed a suite of cloud-based field service management applications. That product is now called Fleetmatics Work. Then there are technology changes in the vehicles themselves. Hybrid vehicles are more popular in government than elsewhere, and it is likely the same will be true of electric vehicles (EVs). Both hybrid vehicles and EVs are significantly more expensive than petrol and diesel vehicles, but the capex/opex price differentials are changing and the alternative technologies are improving. Fleets, where specific models and technologies can be mandated, are able to take a lead on the implementation of new technologies, and governments often like to be seen to be taking a lead in such matters as fuel efficiency. And let us not even talk of driverless cars, the first Australia trials of which are about to be conducted in Adelaide with the active support of the South Australian Government. Government fleet management is a complex and fast-changing landscape. Things will look very different just a few years from now. The days of phalanxes of six-cylinder Australian-made ex-government vehicles passing through the auction yards are coming to an end. The world is changing. So, in many cases reluctantly, must fleet management. This story first appeared in Government News magazine October/November 2015. [post_title] => Driving change: fleet management [post_excerpt] => NSW's StateFleet set to be dismantled. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 22647 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-17 11:44:54 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-17 01:44:54 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=22647 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22592 [post_author] => 664 [post_date] => 2016-01-06 15:47:28 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-01-06 04:47:28 [post_content] =>
Australia has been negotiating its entry into a major international agreement to open government procurement to companies from all member states. Graeme Philipson asks why we haven’t heard more about it.Australia is seeking to be admitted to an international trade group on government procurement. If we join, as expected, local suppliers will gain access to the government procurement markets of all member states, which include the 28 members of the European Union and the US. The group is called the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA). The WTO – the World Trade Organisation – initiated the GPA in 1981 as the ‘Tokyo Round Code on Government Procurement’. It has been expanded and renegotiated ever since, with the most recent round concluded in 2014. When (it is unlikely to be ‘if’) Australian joins the GPA, Australian businesses will be able to sell goods and services into the government markets of other member countries – and suppliers in those countries will be able to sell into all levels of Australian government on the same basis as local suppliers. The Government says that joining the GPA will mean “legally-binding access to government procurement markets estimated at US$1.7 trillion,” a number so large it is difficult to comprehend. China, which is also seeking to join, could add another trillion dollars to the sum. But probably the most remarkable thing about the agreement is that it is so little known. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has a web page on the subject, but it has not exactly advertised the pact’s existence, nor the fact that Australia is seeking to join. “The GPA is a WTO plurilateral agreement which opens government procurement markets between its members,” says DFAT’s website. “The Agreement’s main principles are transparency and non-discrimination. It requires GPA members to offer other members’ suppliers conditions ‘no less favourable’ than domestic suppliers. In addition, the GPA provides for domestic review procedures to enable aggrieved firms to seek a review of procurement decisions.” DFAT says it consulted over 45 peak bodies, industry associations and firms during 2014. It also called for public submissions, with a closing date of 30 January 2015. Six submissions have been made public, and are on the website. Although submissions have closed DFAT says it welcomes further comment, which probably indicates it was not happy with the low number of submissions it received.
When a secret is not a secretThe Government has been criticised for conducting many of its treaty negotiations in secret. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement needed disclosure by whistleblower Ed Snowden to tell us what was being agreed to, and it has become something of an issue. And the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) has become a political football. While Australia’s efforts to join the GPA are not exactly secret, nor are they being made widely known. Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb announced in early June that Australia would seek accession to the GPA, but it went completely unreported. There was not a single article in the Australian press about it (Government News was as guilty as the rest of them). Why? The Government is quick to highlight its achievements, but it has been almost silent on the GPA. It has certainly not entered the public consciousness, nor even that of the commentariat, who both set and follow the public agenda. Government News asked DFAT why the agreement had been virtually ignored? “Mr Robb announced on 2 June that Australia would launch negotiations to join the GPA,” a DFAT spokesperson told Government News. “This announcement followed a period of public consultation that commenced in November 2014. The announcement was welcomed by the Export Council of Australia and the Australian Services' Roundtable. “Australia tabled its offer to join the GPA on 16 September 2015 at the WTO in Geneva. Negotiations are ongoing. Membership of the GPA would give Australian exporters of goods and services a level playing field in global multi-million dollar government procurement markets “At present, Australian firms seeking to bid for government procurement contracts in the EU face discriminatory barriers vis-à-vis competitors from those countries with which the EU has a free trade agreement or which are members of the GPA. And China is also seeking to join the GPA, opening access to some of its $1.5 trillion government procurement market. “The Government is working closely with key stakeholders, including State and Territory governments, to secure the best possible outcome from these negotiations that will open up new export opportunities.”
What does it mean for ‘Buy Australian’?When we asked specifically about then fate of ‘Buy Australian’ under the agreement, the DFAT spokesperson said: “Australia safeguards specific policy and strategic interests in negotiating trade agreements. “We are working closely with state and territory governments and other stakeholders to reflect Australia’s broad commercial and government procurement policy interests in our GPA negotiating position.” Not exactly a guarantee. The possible consequences of the treaty are profound. The submission from the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) says that because government procurement is not guided by the profit motive, but often takes other considerations into account, the agreement is an opportunity to add some principle to procurement guidelines. “… it should act in accordance with good principles of value for money and it should act in accordance with the highest social welfare standards. But in addition, it should act to promote Australia’s economy including industry capabilities, jobs, skills and innovation.” The AMWU says Australia’s current government procurement policies “emphasise a narrow definition of value for money at the expense of broader industry development and economic goals. Specifically, contract cost is seen as the paramount factor when deciding on procurement outcomes, with little consideration given to explicit jobs, skills and industry capability impacts. “The AMWU sees this as an abrogation of the government’s responsibility to support and promote a strong, diversified and advanced economy. In our view, a procurement decision that does not take explicit and if possible quantified economic benefits into account, as well as explicit contract costs, cannot achieve real value for money. “As a response to this policy failure, the AMWU has advocated for a procurement policy that incorporates a broader definition of ‘value for money’ than contract price, in particular, an explicit and if possible quantitative assessment of the benefits of contract options.”
A level playing fieldThat seems a distant dream. If it is not happening now, it is much less likely to be the case under the GPA. The Export Council of Australia, in its very short submission, says: “Not being party to this agreement is a factor limiting the ability of Australian businesses to compete on a level playing field in international procurement markets. “Therefore, the Australian Government should endeavour to see that Australia accedes to the GPA as soon as is reasonably possible. Given China’s potential accession in 2015, it would be beneficial for Australia to accede before that time to secure equal access to the ensuing procurement opportunities for Australian suppliers.” The employers want access to more markets, the workers are concerned about the wider social implications. No surprises there. The Australian Service Roundtable (ASR) welcomes the move to join the GPA, but with substantial reservations. “The mere opening of markets is not, by itself, enough to ensure good economic performance. What is required is a deepening and broadening of international trade disciplines to ensure that, as far as possible, all aspects of government procurement are carried out in a transparent and non-discriminatory manner that maximises value for money for governments and taxpayers.” The ASR submission says that some of its members have raised concerns about any changes to selective tendering and negotiations procedures, timeframes and technical specifications at the state level. “Streamlining procurement processes, and reducing costs of tendering especially for SMEs is a key advocacy focus for ASR. If the GPA carries any risk for existing contract standards, panel arrangements and appeal mechanisms at a state level, our members may query the benefit of the Agreement. “For example, a ‘bid challenge mechanism’ as required under the GPA may raise costs significantly for Australian bidders if it goes far beyond current processes to review tender decisions.” The GPA has the potential to radically transform government procurement in Australia. For a start, it is totally at odds with any ‘buy Australian’ guidelines, and a literal reading of the GPA rules suggests that government authorities could be dragged before the Agreements tribunal system if they attempted to implement such a policy. The same is true of procurement guidelines that support small business, or local business, or indigenous suppliers. Defence and national security considerations are specifically excluded, but not much else. The GPA may or may not be a good thing. But whatever the case, it deserves more scrutiny than it is getting. This story first appeared in Government News magazine October/November 2015. [post_title] => The greatest procurement treaty you've never heard of [post_excerpt] => WTO agreement on government procurement. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => greatest-procurement-treaty-youve-never-heard [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-01-08 09:19:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-01-07 22:19:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=22592 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 21729 [post_author] => 664 [post_date] => 2015-10-12 13:10:10 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-10-12 02:10:10 [post_content] => Malcolm Turnbull’s weekend announcement that the Commonwealth will provide $95 million in funding towards the extension of the Gold Coast’s light rail system gives further impetus to the quite remarkable popularity of the technology in Australia. Trams were once Australia’s most popular form of public transport, operating even in comparatively small cities such as Geelong and Ballarat. Now they are flavour of the month for Australia’s growing band of public transport advocates, the chief of which is our new Prime Minister. Malcolm Turnbull delights in being seen on public transport, in great contrast to his predecessor, who believed cars made ‘kings’ of ordinary people. It has not taken long for the new Prime Minister’s ideas to see action. “Public transport infrastructure is absolutely critical to the development of our cities,” he said when announcing the Gold Coast deal, “which are absolutely critical to ensuring our future prosperity as a nation. “Our cities are the crucibles of innovation and enterprise. They are where so much of our GDP is created and it's vital that they have the right infrastructure, whether it is telecommunications infrastructure or transport infrastructure.” Sydney’s CBD has had its buses taken off George St, the city’s main north-south artery, as construction of a massive new light rail line begins. The Gold Coast line has converted many former opponents into light rail enthusiasts. Light rail in Australia is booming – there is even a major conference on the subject planned for 2016. The are many projects in the offing: In operation
- Melbourne: Melbourne’s 250km metropolitan tram system rivals St Petersburg as the most extensive light rail system in the world.
- Sydney: From Central Railway to Dulwich Hill, built on old tram tracks and an obsolete goods line, servicing the southern CBD, Darling Harbour, and the Inner West.
- Adelaide: A single 12km line from the CBD to the beachside suborn of Glenelg was retained when Adelaide’s tram network was decommissioned in 1956. It has since been extended to North Terrace and along Port Road to Hindmarsh.
- Gold Coast: The existing G:link line from Griffith University’s Southport campus to Broadbeach was opened in 2014.
- Sydney: Major extension of the network, with a new line from Circular Quay down the spine of the CBD along George St, past Central Railway, through Surry Hills and branching at Moore Park into separate lines to Randwick and Kingsford.
- Canberra: Capital Metro announced in early 2015, to run 12km from Gungahlin in the north, down Northbourne Avenue to Civic. Construction planned 2016-19. There is a proposal to extend it along the northern shore of Lake Burley Griffin to Russell.
- Perth: MAX (Metro Area Express), announced by the WA state government but now deferred, with construction planned from 2017 to 2022. The planned route is from Mirabooka in the north to the Perth CBD, with spurs to the University of Western Australia in the south west and Victoria Park in the south east. There are also proposals to eventually extend the line to Fremantle.
- Gold Coast: Extension of existing line north to heavy rail station at Helensvale, to be completed before the Commonwealth Games in 2018.
- Adelaide: A number of extensions have been proposed, to Port Adelaide, Adelaide Airport, Semaphore and Mitcham, as well as more tracks in the CBD.
- Hobart: Riverline, a proposed light rail system from the CBD along the southern bank of the Derwent River and perhaps across the river to Bridgewater, has been shelved after the Abbott Government scrapped a feasibility study in 2014. Expect to see it back on the table soon.
- Newcastle: The NSW government closed the heavy rail spur between Hamilton and Newcastle’s CBD in 2014, replacing it with buses. Two options have been proposed for a light rail system – one long the old rail lines, and another on Hunter St. The government is conducting a study, but there has been no announcement.
- Parramatta: The city council has conducted a $1 million feasibility study for a network connecting the CBD with Macquarie Park and Castle Hill, with possible extensions to Bankstown and Olympic Park.
- Sunshine Coast: The council has conducted a feasibility study of a route from Caloundra to Maroochydore, and has talked about an opening date of 2025.
- Enable recognition of new and existing city-level commitments by making annual reporting data on local climate action publicly available
- Establish robust and transparent data collection standards
- Commit to common reporting processes for local climate action that allow for consistent and reliable assessment of progress towards meeting those targets
- Create an evidence base of the greenhouse gas impact of city action to enable capital flows into cities to support city governments taking further action and to be held responsible for that action and the associated investments
- Demonstrate the commitment of city governments to contribute positively towards more ambitious, transparent, and credible national climate targets by voluntarily agreeing to meet standards similar to those followed by national governments
- Encourage national governments to actively support additional city action by recognising local commitments, establishing more enabling policy environments and directing resources to cities to limit any further increase in global warming and to appropriately resource both mitigation and adaptation local climate action
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