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                    [post_content] => 

Keith Dodds

The procurement reforms recently announced by Angus Taylor, Assistant Minister for Digital Transformation and Gavin Slater, the new CEO of the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA), represent a step in the right direction for digital innovation in government – but when it comes to breaking the back of old-school technology procurement, we are only just scratching the surface.

The Australian government is the largest single buyer of IT services in Australia, spending $6.5 billion annually. It’s all taxpayer-funded and much of it is being misspent. For 40 years, big, multinational software package vendors have enjoyed procurement practices that have effectively enabled them to hold the government and its citizens ‘hostage’. Their long-running, multi-year contracts with big bang deliverables have cost government and taxpayers dearly, often with disastrous results (think #CensusFail and Queensland Health to name just two).

Limiting contracts to three years, with no extensions, and capping contract amounts at $100 million will certainly curb some of the damage. However, many applauded the reforms for their potential to open up new opportunities for the local start-up community, yet existing panel arrangements favour an old-school approach that benefits large incumbents and encourages near-monopolistic practices – while continuing to stifle younger, smaller and more innovative companies. It is not just start-ups, either, as many smaller service providers have struggled for years against the current contract and procurement system.  

When the Turnbull government promised to have a “whole of government digital transformation strategy” in place by the end of 2016 if re-elected, our team helped the DTA facilitate a process of intensive interviews and workshops to cross-fertilise thinking across a wide range of federal government agencies. The end result was a Government Digital Transformation Roadmap. The procurement taskforce report acknowledges the need for “a comprehensive ICT strategy to help guide agencies’ ICT procurement decisions in order to drive the government’s digital transformation agenda”. However, government won’t be able to truly embrace innovative digital transformation until it creates the right conditions – an environment that breeds and nurtures suppliers who are capable of delivering the innovative solutions it needs. In the meantime, the delay is costing hundreds of millions of dollars during a time of fiscal restraint. The waste must stop.

In the UK, the Government Digital Service took steps in the very early stages of its digital transformation to break the procurement stranglehold of entrenched players. A plethora of new suppliers are now serving the UK Government, and taxpayers, as a result. This is one of the reasons the UK (and other European countries) are further advanced when it comes to citizen-centric digital services.

In Australia, we need to set an aggressive, mandatory deadline for the replacement of the outdated panel system and establish a truly open marketplace in its place. The DTA’s Digital Marketplace was intended to do this, but many large agencies are barely using it (if at all).

The government must also look to expand its use of open source. The government’s Digital Service Standard mandates the use of open standards where appropriate, making all new source code open by default and measuring performance against KPI reported on a public dashboard. Yet closed, proprietary packages remain the rule, not the exception.

Finally, it is critical that compliance with these objectives is made mandatory and public. The DTA’s ‘Performance Dashboard’ aims to “make data open and accessible by measuring the performance of Australian government services” and promote government transparency, but it does not report on contract awards by vendor, longevity, open source versus proprietary solutions, etc.

Such visibility is required to make and measure demonstrable progress and to adequately serve the public interest, which at the end of the day, is the government’s primary obligation.

Keith Dodds is the director of client relations in Australia for ThoughtWorks.

 
                    [post_title] => Digital procurement needs major reforms
                    [post_excerpt] => Antiquated government procurement is still impending innovative digital transformation.
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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_28102" align="alignnone" width="287"] Unlikely as it seems but The Rock, NSW, is an innovation hub. Photo by Golden Wattle - own work, via WikiPedia.[/caption]

Kim Houghton, University of CanberraInnovation is the highest in regional centres that have research and development institutions and there are only 26 of these in regional Australia. But more than 150 regional areas have potential to match this innovation, a new index finds.

In conjunction with the Regional Australia Institute, we’ve developed an Innovation Index that maps the national spread of two complementary aspects of innovation – research and development, and 'business dynamo'. The measure of research and development is focused on technical expertise and the number of applications for patents, and the business dynamo measure incorporates startup rates, trademarks and the number of business-to-business services.

Judging by these two measures, it’s true that big cities are the nation’s key innovation assets. One cause of this is the number of registered research and development institutions (174 out of around 200 nationwide), which are located in our big cities. This is to where much of the research and development investment flows.

But there are 49 local government areas like Hobart (Tas), Palerang and Yass Valley (NSW/ACT), Queenscliff (Vic), Toodyay (WA) and Darwin (NT) that score highly in both measures of the index. These areas combine a local business network with a high rate of trademark applications. This suggests that existing businesses in these places are innovating successfully.

The concerning contrast to this are Australia’s old industrial centres, such as Burnie and Glenorchy (Tas), Port Pirie (SA), Broken Hill (NSW) and Benalla (Vic). There are 195 areas like this across Australia, which have lost many businesses and jobs over the last 20 years. They are also among the worst performers in terms of innovation in regional Australia.

This 195 included a large number of areas with low populations, agricultural industries and areas that are remote.

There were 77 local government areas that scored strongly in engineering, science, and research and development, but weaker in the business dynamo measure. These areas are largely a mix of longstanding mining and minerals processing, like Whyalla (SA), Mt Isa (Qld), Muswellbrook and Singleton (NSW Hunter Valley), and new mining hotspots like Karratha (WA), Pilbara (WA), Weipa (QLD) and Roxby Downs (SA).

We found 110 areas were strong in business dynamo but with limited research and development capacity. These areas usually have strong lifestyle appeal like Hepburn (Vic), the Gold and Sunshine Coasts (Qld), Claire Valley and Victor Harbour (SA) and Busselton (WA). This also includes regional entrepreneurial centres like Griffith (NSW) and Ballarat (Vic).

How regional areas are innovating

Innovation in regional Australia is big business. A Commonwealth Bank report found regional businesses perform better than their metropolitan counterparts on measures like asking employees for new ideas and looking to benefit from technology changes. The report estimated that regional businesses are seeing a financial return from their investment in innovation to be an average of A$279,000, contributing A$19 billion to the economy each year. If all regional businesses reached this benchmark, the report believes the regional economy could grow by A$44 billion every year. We found there are many regional businesses using innovative approaches and technologies to solve problems for not only their own communities, but others as well. One example is Therapy Connect, a business founded in Deniliquin, NSW, that operates solely online. It has become recognised as a leader in the field of providing online speech and occupational therapy supports to children and families in Australia. The business has provided services to over 25 new regional areas across states and territories in Australia and reaches as far as Asia, all from its own regional bases in New South Wales & Victoria. Another example is business Pointer Remote Role, a platform that matches professional candidate profiles with roles that can be conducted remotely and that are specific to their skill set and experience. Think hookup app Tinder, but for remote employment. The business is based in The Rock, NSW, and was started to create a more level playing field for professionals living regionally. States, too, are active. Queensland has a Regional Innovation Hubs program, which is starting to fund spaces and activities to foster innovation in regional places. NSW, too, has an augmented NSW incubators and accelerators program, and South Australia has both early stage and venture capital funds. Mapping out these regional innovation ecosystems gives us a better idea of how these interventions can be even more targeted to addressing known weaknesses. Longreach’s Entrepreneur in Residence is a great example of how dedicated people and a little financial support can address a key gap. Longreach in Central West Queensland hosted an Entrepreneur in Residence, Daniel Johnsen, from California. Johnsen is a US-based Startup Weekend facilitator and mentor. These Startup Weekends are 54-hour events, where different people gather to pitch ideas for new startups, form teams around those ideas, and work to develop a working prototype, demo, or presentation by the Sunday evening. Johnsen set up the first Startup Weekend Outback Edition in August. He said:
"The pitches and ideas were on par with those that I have seen all over the world. I look forward to facilitating another one in the region before my time as Entrepreneur in Residence finishes next June."
The ConversationThis is the kind of targeted approach, involving partnerships and collaboration with regional innovators and resource organisations, that’s needed to lift other regions performing badly in the index, to innovate better. Kim Houghton, Adjunct Associate Professor IGPA, University of Canberra This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. [post_title] => Innovate in the regions [post_excerpt] => Which local government areas are the powerhouses when it comes to innovation? [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => heres-49-small-communities-innovating-well-big-cities [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-09-25 12:29:45 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-09-25 02:29:45 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://governmentnews.com.au/?p=28099 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28084 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-09-21 21:12:04 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-09-21 11:12:04 [post_content] => Peter Tran Whether citizens realise it or not, most cities are on the cusp of becoming smart cities through the use of connected information systems that have the ability to ‘learn’, interact and scale across multiple domains and critical services. These include healthcare, transportation, public safety, supply chains, water and energy/grid. Add another layer to this with the rapid growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), and it’s clear that many communities will have smart capabilities in the next few years. With the rise of smart cities, however, comes the associated danger of bad actors seizing control of critical systems through IoT or other vulnerabilities. The cities of tomorrow are here today and hacking isn’t a futuristic, science fiction idea, it’s a reality that governments and its citizens need to consider as part of their day-to-day living. Just over two years ago hackers seized control of the power systems in several cities in Estonia, knocking out the electricity for over 100,000 residents. Compounding the problem was that the hackers were able to remotely trip circuit breakers forcing power plant workers to visit substations and manually flip a switch to restore energy services. It’s with the rise of IoT that we will see cities move from simple interconnection to being ‘smart’. Gartner estimates that by 2020, there will be in excess of 20 billion internet connected devices around the globe, and that number will only grow. Where the danger lies is in the nature of IoT devices, which are defined by function and connectivity, not security. IoT devices are designed to be inexpensive, ubiquitous, fast and highly connected, but little thought has gone into making them ‘security aware’, to monitor and detect for threats from bad actors. So where is the problem? With the rise of smart cities, IoT devices are being used as sensors for traffic monitoring, to keep track of pedestrian numbers, air quality, urban congestion and flag when public garbage bins are reaching capacity. Street lamps are linked into the public information system to turn themselves on when pedestrians are around. Traffic lights report back on road congestion, and the list goes on. Put simply, if there’s a function that can be made smarter, then it probably will be. As we’ve discovered, however, these sensors are designed to be cheap, fast and interconnected. Not secure. So a traffic system could have a critical integration point to a power system. A garbage monitor could provide a sensor pathway into water treatment, while air quality monitors could eventually provide an insecure path back into a city’s core ERP and financials. Gaps in security could allow hackers to take control of financials, effectively shutting down the city because workers can’t be paid and taxes can’t be remitted. Good security means good practices The way to monitor and defend against risks and threats is to apply good security practices to IoT. Just because an air quality sensor isn’t a core system, doesn’t mean that it is exempt from the very information security practices that keep a city’s ERP, financials and disaster recovery safe. Where progress needs to be made is in adapting current effective security protocols and practices at scale to federate to the massively growing world of IoT. This means examining where security blind spots could be, designing smart cities by function, monitoring functional relationships between IoT sensors, moving to IoT specific device and data authentication, access, authorisation relationships and detecting for and responding to behavioural anomalies across sensors from core information systems in a centrally controlled manner… the IoT ‘map of the earth’. Legislation is also an important tool in protecting cities against IoT vulnerabilities. Recent laws proposed in the United States have called for baseline IoT security for equipment being sold to the US federal government. These laws would stipulate that there are no hard-coded universal passwords, and that IoT devices are standardised to meet certain security requirements such as being patch capable against flaws discovered in the future. In Australia, where the Australian Government has declared that the nation should become a leader in smart cities via its 2016 Smart Cities program, laws about the security aspects of IoT haven’t been contemplated. The closest Australia has come is with a study from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner looking at the privacy aspects of IoT devices, which was conducted during 2016. This review of privacy could provide the basis for IoT laws governing security, however that remains something that hasn’t yet been proposed domestically. In essence, Australia is slip-streaming global moves on IoT security, and hoping that moves like the proposed legislation in the US will also provide protection for devices being sold and installed in the domestic market. Looking for the upside It’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to smart cities and IoT. Security aside – and we can’t forget security is a major issue – smart cities have the potential to radically improve the quality of life of its citizens. This could come through the better and timelier provision of current and new connected living services and more efficient provision of government and private sector services. The IoT could, for example, be a literal life-saver when it comes to natural disasters in Australia and around the globe. Sensors installed in communities could pinpoint areas that are no-go zones, conduct audits of the movement of traffic and streamline evacuations, as well as identify areas of damage due to wind, water or fire as well as geolocation of citizens in need of emergency rescue. What’s clear is that the door has opened onto smart cities and IoT. The proliferation of IoT devices and their interconnection with city systems means that, with little planning, communities will become smart by default. The key to making this transition work is twofold. First and top of mind, security considerations needs to be addressed. This is something that can happen using existing security best-practice and protocols. It’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel when it comes to IoT security. Instead, what needs to happen is that security must become part of the design of smart cities, and security needs to be an ongoing life cycle of IoT, not something that is a ‘one hit wonder’. The second aspect and equally important of becoming a smart city is data integrity. Sensors generate masses of data, and smart cities need to have technology and processes put in place to analyse data in the context of smart city critical function, in order to directly align to the connected lives of its citizens and determine in real time if there are indications of compromise and/or risk. With those two aspects in place, smart cities are achievable, quality life enhancing, safe and cyber secure. Peter Tran is GM and Sr. Director of Worldwide Advance Cyber Defence Practice, RSA. [post_title] => The rise and risks of smart cities [post_excerpt] => Smart cities are possible and, indeed, inevitable with smart management from governments. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => rise-risks-smart-cities [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-09-21 21:12:04 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-09-21 11:12:04 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://governmentnews.com.au/?p=28084 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28068 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-09-18 16:17:32 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-09-18 06:17:32 [post_content] => Alan IvoryWith more and more government departments looking at ways they can digitally transform their practices, many are looking at software as a service (SaaS) providers as a core part of that strategy. Previously only consistent in their disparate approaches, a clear set of procurement practices are now emerging to ensure the successful integration of SaaS and maximise ROI. Working with the biggest brands in the world, I have spent thousands of hours with both government and enterprise procurement teams. Over the last year, this has involved facing over 20 different procurement departments in Asia Pacific and globally across the finance, technology, telecommunications, retail, government and travel sectors. Based on that experience, below are my top tips for a smooth procurement process.
  1. Implementation first
SaaS procurement has changed the very nature of procurement teams and their core skillsets. Today’s best teams are no longer just looking at contract value or the software as a platform – they are looking at how the software will be adopted more widely by the organisation or department. This is so relevant in government where teams are often large and diversely skilled, getting the whole team on board early is essential. The success of a project depends upon the integrity of the implementation, hence executing this phase flawlessly can prevent issues from creeping up further down the line.
  1. End to end ownership
SaaS will inevitably impact multiple teams and departments. Staying involved and engaged throughout all the stakeholder reviews is the only way procurement can meaningfully understand the requirements unique to each unit. Where we used to see procurement collecting opinions, this deeper level of understanding provides a more balanced overview of the suppliers competing for the contract, so you are comparing apples with apples. For our business, this generally starts with the event team, then moves through marketing, finance and IT.
  1. The skill set
The single truth of a SaaS is it should improve your efficiency, ideally reducing the number of vendors you use. This, in turn, reduces risk, contracts, manual processes and overheads. To drive a more efficient procurement timeline, with stakeholder engagement still high at the critical onboarding phase, government organisations need to invest in personnel with a unique skillset. They will need to repeatedly bring multiple stakeholders across numerous teams together and extract the complex ways SaaS will impact, improve or challenge them. It’s a common mistake to have a ‘techy’ run this process. While they may understand the technical implications, we frequently see the engagement efforts derail due to the lack of experience in meeting facilitation.
  1. Operationally centric
Procurement based on contract terms and price is setting itself up for failure. Conversely, striving for operational excellence hallmarks the most successful outcomes. We are seeing the best procurement teams asking to complete pilots. Most SaaS providers will have a testing platform alongside their production platform.
  1. Don’t just test the software, test the integrations too
Integrations are a critical part of the SaaS procurement process. Look at how the software works within your own software climate - often something difficult to change within government. Determine the short term and long term goals and ask how the platform can fit into that. How will the data flow? What are the advantages and the costs to deploy? Leaders in this field are testing the integrations in pilot phases, ensuring they work with existing software, CRM, MA, financials, membership software, etc. Integration teams from the vendor and client agree on the integration piece and test with dummy data for a full end to end review. It’s also important to ask: what is the ROI of those integrations and what are the cost savings? Cost of implementation is no longer the primary focus, as organisations instead look to cost reductions of replacing manual processes and headcount reductions. The value inherent in provision of real-time analytics and big data enable further cost savings or revenue generation.
  1. Work in partnership
If you want the SaaS vendor to provide a project team to assist in the deployment, meet the team – not just the sales team. Make sure the team is local, has the resources, and will be dedicated to your organisation during the process. Ask who is running the project. If utilising the vendor’s professional services team, make sure there is an alignment between procurement so the expectations are unambiguous.
  1. Contract transparency
Make sure all of your internal stakeholders understand the contract. Previously a tightly-held document, we are seeing an evolution into contract transparency from the top tier procurement teams. The best implementations occur when significant time is invested in multi-team consultation and onboarding after the contract is signed, with positive uptake and a sense of ownership driving optimal engagement. Conversely, where stakeholders are given no sense of ownership or empowerment we are seeing poor adoption rates, departmental stand-offs and resentment from lack of buy-in.
  1. Own the onboarding
Most successful procurement teams have KPI linked to the successful outcome of the project implementation, not the contract value. There has never been better reason for procurement to have a part of the onboarding process, involving multi-team training of all stakeholders and any third-party agencies that may have interactions with the SaaS. If this process is not driven powerfully internally, then the project will stall here, no matter how motivated the vendor is. Disenfranchised stakeholders, under-skilled users, and lack of internal project management will quickly derail any SaaS uptake into your business.
  1. RFP
Surprisingly, software RFP have not evolved well with the digital era. Often they are a technically focused generic checklist of features, as opposed to focusing on organisational objectives. Make sure your RFP is up to date, has had input from the various departments and stakeholders, and is aligned with the its overall needs. Here are some of the more important, but often omitted, questions from RFP:
  • Security and compliance
Many organisations have multiple procurement teams. Australian banks and some government departments, for example, often have a security procurement team who review the security aspects of the platform and contract. Procurement teams must be aware of the compliance regulations, specifically when it comes to sensitive information. Being an informed consumer is key to success here; things to consider when developing your checklist are:
  • Where is the data stored?
  • What level of data security standards have you reached?
  • What level of encryption do you hold your data to?
  • Support
How will the platform be supported? How will the team be supported? Where is the support service located? Is this inclusive to the contract value or at an additional cost? Support can be very difficult to measure, so it is an extremely variable cost unless it is inclusive.
  • Team location
The beauty of a SaaS is that you are not bound by the location of a team of people – until you want specialised support or a professional services team to implement your projects for you. If there is any possibility this will be the case with your organisation, then it is important you know where the team will be located, how responsive they can be, and if they have the resources to dedicate time to you during the implementation process. Not surprisingly, it is the big consultancies, insurance companies, banks, technology companies and leading associations that are doing these things best. However, with accessible technology there is plenty of opportunity for government agencies and organisations to join the best-practice leaders for SaaS procurement. In a world of increasing scrutiny around data security and compliance, efficiency, and the importance of emotional intelligence, there is exciting scope for procurement professionals to step into this void and powerfully impact the return on investment which a well planned and executed SaaS procurement affords. Alan Ivory is the vice president- global professional services for event management SaaS provider etouches. [post_title] => SaaS procurement in government [post_excerpt] => The procurement practices that lead to successful integration. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => saas-procurement-government [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-09-18 16:17:32 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-09-18 06:17:32 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://governmentnews.com.au/?p=28068 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28061 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-09-18 15:20:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-09-18 05:20:00 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_28064" align="alignnone" width="300"] ALGA President Mayor David O'Loughlin.[/caption] Mayor David O'Loughlin Warnings in the Victorian Parliament this week about the financial struggles facing small rural councils should trouble us all. Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) President Mary Lalios gave a gloomy but accurate assessment of smaller councils’ inability to deal with lower levels of Commonwealth funding and a 2 per cent cap on rate increases. Similar concerns have arisen in my home state of South Australia, where the Liberal Opposition Party has said it will peg council rates if it wins government at the state election due next March. NSW councils have laboured under rate capping since 1978, and last November were told by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (which sets the allowable rate increase) that they could increase their rates for the next financial year by no more than 1.5 per cent. IPART said the 1.5 per cent figure was fair given low inflation and slow wage growth. But as my colleague Local Government NSW President Keith Rhoades said at the time, IPART’s conclusions ignored the 1.8 per cent increase in CPI, the equivalent increase in employment benefits and non-residential building costs greater than 1.5 per cent. And he pointed out, rightly in my view, that the rage peg was “a financial noose which continued to tighten” around councils and local communities. Yet surely it would be a brave observer who concluded that the Sydney market would be overly sensitive to rate rises when the same market is still growing despite the largest increase in property costs and rents in Australia in recent years. Yet there's no sign of an IPART equivalent seeking to intervene on rents or property prices. Consider this: Sydney councils have been rate-pegged for the longest duration in the nation, and many of them now impose the highest developer charges in the nation for new homes. The Sydney market has the longest running housing supply shortfall and, as a direct consequence, the highest average rents in the nation. Perhaps it's just me, but in my mind, these factors are intrinsically linked. What is wrong with Councils determining their own level of rates? After all, as the recent NSW council elections demonstrated, we are ultimately accountable to our voters, and if we get the balance wrong we risk being thrown out of office. It's a proven mechanism – it's called democracy. Meanwhile, the well-intentioned but unelected IPART need never worry about facing the voters about the short and long-term impacts of rate pegging. This week Cr Lalios told the Victorian Parliament that capital spending in small rural shires would decline by 30 per cent from 2016-20, with the three-year freeze in Financial Assistance Grants, the cancellation of the Country Roads and Bridges Program in 2105, and  the two per cent rate cap contributing substantially to that reduction. The immediate consequences of rate capping, particularly for councils with limited access to other revenue like parking fees, fines and charges, are an increase in debt levels, a drop in service levels, or a combination of both. Over the longer term, however, that’s unsustainable. The Commonwealth’s “efficiency dividends’’ show year-on-year budget cuts imposed on departments and agencies inevitably lead to reduced or cancelled public services. Why would Local Government be any different? Councils have the narrowest revenue base of the three levels of government, yet the heaviest roads and infrastructure burden. Rate caps are the financial equivalent of a ball and chain. And it is ratepayers and local businesses who are hit hardest by truncated services, deteriorating infrastructure, and a lack of capacity to innovate and respond to emerging community needs. Councils are already attempting to offset the double whammy of rate caps and lower Commonwealth funding by using collaborative procurement, improved asset management, and by developing cost-sharing partnerships and other options – but this may not be enough to change the fundamentals. As I advocate for a return to sustainable federal funding, I am drawing a clear link to the call for an end to rates caps in favour of local decision-making. I make it clear that for every dollar councils are unable to raise locally, they will be looking for it elsewhere – with the Commonwealth a primary target. Mayor David O’Loughlin is the president of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA).   [post_title] => Small councils to go hungry [post_excerpt] => Warnings about the financial struggles facing small rural councils should trouble us all. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => small-councils-go-hungry [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-09-19 09:33:24 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-09-18 23:33:24 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://governmentnews.com.au/?p=28061 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27986 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-09-08 07:46:59 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-09-07 21:46:59 [post_content] => Brian Halstead The NSW Government has spent $360 million on grants to fund its council amalgamation program and $200 million more for communities in an aim to hide the fact that forced council mergers are financially failing. These figures are contained in government documents on local government reform and the new $200 million ‘Stronger Communities’ payouts in country and regional NSW. We believe these grants are political sweeteners to soften an electoral backlash against the state Coalition because of forced mergers. Following a ten-week study and research in response to savings being voiced by the Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton and publicity issued by the state Coalition, there appear to be serious unexplained shortfalls in most amalgamated council figures. As justification for NSW council amalgamations, the State Government promised surpluses for the first year (2017/18) of $82.3 million in metro councils and 20-year savings for regional and rural councils of $232million. We studied seven metro and 13 regional and country amalgamated councils. In metro councils, based on the councils’ 2017/18 proposed plans, deficits are forecast in total to be $1.3 million rather than the $82.5 million surplus the government promised in its proposals. The shortfalls on a comparable basis vary from $19 million in the new Inner West Council and $17.4 million in Cumberland, with many more councils in large shortfall territory. In the country and regions, Central Coast has a 20-year proposed savings figure of $115 million. In the council’s own 2017/18 forecast, the Central Coast has a deficit forecast of $8 million. In the 2017/18 general fund, Mid Coast Council will have a $15.4 million deficit, Queanbeyan $17.3 million, Snowy Monaro $4.4m, and Cootamundra nearly $2.5 million. The list of deficits goes on. One of the key benefits of amalgamated councils as claimed by the Baird/Berejiklian government was the expected improved financial performance compared with the previous stand-alone pre-amalgamated councils. The figures show the councils have failed miserably to deliver the surpluses promised by the State Government in the amalgamation proposals. The councils also fail in most cases to deliver the surpluses, that in total the individual councils committed to make standing alone or actually made three years earlier. Unless the amalgamated councils produce reconciliations with the government proposals, the overall amalgamated proposals will be seen to be a smoke and mirrors spin process supported by a secret KPMG Report. The amalgamations clearly appear not to be delivering the financial benefits promised. While we welcome the fact that the court proceedings in Sydney and in country and regional NSW have been withdrawn, we are still very concerned that many NSW councils are unable to deny amalgamations through legal proceedings. The communities must be given a say on whether the amalgamations that have taken place should be reversed as they are failing to deliver. Brian Halstead is an accountant, the author of the study and president of the Save Our Councils Coalition. [post_title] => Are merged councils financially secure? [post_excerpt] => A ten-week study and research has shown up shortfalls in some amalgamated council figures. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => merged-councils-financially-secure [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-09-08 10:53:52 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-09-08 00:53:52 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://governmentnews.com.au/?p=27986 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27959 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-09-04 21:22:43 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-09-04 11:22:43 [post_content] =>   Joshua Healy, University of Melbourne and Daniel Nicholson, University of Melbourne Workers aren’t being compensated as much as they should be for precarious work in casual positions. One in four Australian employees today is a casual worker. Among younger workers (15-24 year olds) the numbers are higher still: more than half of them are casuals. These jobs come without some of the benefits of permanent employment, such as paid annual holiday leave and sick leave. In exchange for giving up these entitlements, casual workers are supposed to receive a higher hourly rate of pay – known as a casual 'loading'. But the costs of casual work are now outweighing the benefits in wages.

Costs and benefits of casual work

Casual jobs offer flexibility, but also come with costs. For workers, apart from missing out on paid leave, there are other compromises: less predictable working hours and earnings, and the prospect of dismissal without notice. Uncertainty about their future employment can hinder casual workers in other ways, such as making family arrangements, getting a mortgage, and juggling education with work. Not surprisingly, casual workers have lower expectations about keeping their current job. For example the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) found 19% expect to leave their job within 12 months, compared to 7% of other workers. Casuals are also much less likely to get work-related training, which limits their opportunities for skills development. The employers of casual workers also face higher costs. High staff turnover adds to recruitment costs. But perhaps the main cost is the “loading” that casual workers are supposed to be paid on top of their ordinary hourly wage. Australia’s system of minimum wage awards specifies a casual loading of 25%. So, a casual worker paid under an award should get 25% more for each hour than another worker doing the same job on a permanent basis. In enterprise agreements, the casual loading varies by sector, but tends to be between 15 and 25%. The practice of paying a casual loading developed for two reasons. One was to provide some compensation for workers missing out on paid leave. The other, quite different, motivation was to make casual employment more expensive and discourage excessive use of it. However this disincentive has not prevented the casual sector of the workforce from growing substantially.

Casual jobs aren’t much better paid

One approach in determining whether casual workers are paid more is simply to compare the hourly wages of casual and “non-casual” (permanent and fixed-term) employees in the same occupations. This can be done using data from the 2016 ABS Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours. We compared median hourly wages for adult non-managerial employees, based on their ordinary earnings and hours of work (i.e. excluding overtime payments). If the median wage for casuals is higher than for non-casuals, there is a casual premium. If the median casual wage is lower, there is a penalty. The 10 occupations below accounted for over half of all adult casual workers in 2016. In most of these occupations, there is a modest casual wage premium - in the order of 4-5%. The size of the typical casual wage premium is much smaller, in most cases, than the loadings written into awards and agreements. Only one occupation (school teachers) has a premium (22%) in line with what might be expected. Three of the 10 largest casual occupations actually penalise this sort of work. And overall for these 10 occupations there is a casual wage penalty of 5%. This method of analysis suggests that few casual workers enjoy substantially higher wages as a trade-off for paid leave. Taking a closer look involves controlling for a wider range of differences between casual and non-casual workers. One major Australian study in 2005 compared wages after taking account of many factors other than occupation, including age, education, job location, and employer size. All else equal, it found that part-time, casual workers do receive an hourly wage premium over full-time, permanent workers. The premium is worth around 10%, on average, for men and between 4 and 7% for women. These results imply that most casual workers (who are in part-time positions) can expect to receive higher hourly wages than comparable employees in full-time, permanent positions. However, the value of the benefit is again found to be less than would be expected, given the larger casual loadings mentioned in awards and agreements. It seems that while there is some short-term financial benefit to being a casual worker, this advantage is worth less in practice than on paper. A recent study, using 14 years of data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey (HILDA), finds no evidence of any long-term pay benefit for casual workers. The study’s authors estimate that, among men, there is an average casual wage penalty of 10% - the opposite of what we should see if casual loadings fully offset the foregone leave and insecurity of casual jobs. Among female casual workers, there is also a wage penalty, but this is smaller, at around 4%. This study also finds that the size of the negative casual wage effect tends to reduce over time for individual workers, bringing them closer to equality with permanent workers. But very few casual workers out-earn permanent workers in the long-term.

Inferior jobs, but fewer alternatives

The evidence on hourly wage differences leads us to conclude that casual workers are not being adequately compensated for the lack of paid leave, or for other forms of insecurity they face. This makes casual jobs a less appealing option for workers. This does not mean that all casual workers dislike their jobs – indeed, many are satisfied. But a clear-eyed look at what these jobs pay suggests their benefits are skewed in favour of employers. Despite this, the choice for many workers - especially young jobseekers - is increasingly between a casual job or no job at all. Half of employed 15-24 year olds are in casual jobs. The ConversationIn a labour market characterised by high underemployment and intensifying job competition, young people with little or no work experience are understandably willing to make some sacrifices to get a start in the workforce. The option of 'holding out' for a permanent job looks increasingly risky as these opportunities dwindle. Joshua Healy, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Workplace Leadership, University of Melbourne and Daniel Nicholson, Research Assistant, Industrial Relations, University of Melbourne. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. [post_title] => The costs of a casual job [post_excerpt] => The costs of a casual job are now outweighing any pay benefits. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => costs-casual-job [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-09-04 21:25:47 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-09-04 11:25:47 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://governmentnews.com.au/?p=27959 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27964 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-09-03 12:54:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-09-03 02:54:52 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_27965" align="alignnone" width="300"] Dr Ian McPhee.[/caption] Dr Ian McPhee is a medical specialist with a career that began more than 35 years ago in Anaesthesia. Three years ago, at the age of 59, he was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive T-cell lymphoma. In spite of extensive treatment, including chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, his cancer has spread to several sites, and is now in an advanced stage. Dr McPhee is a strong supporter of palliative care, and considers it a vital part of the medical system. He believes that for many, it is the difference between extreme suffering, and achieving some respite at the last stage of life. However, for himself, he is seeking an alternative option. Dr McPhee has arranged to access a drug that will enable him to end his life. He has discussed this with his family, and they are fully supportive. He has agreed to speak publicly about his situation in the hope that it will provide a better understanding of why some terminally ill individuals want the option of an assisted death. In the time he has left, Dr McPhee is urging MPs to support the NSW Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill when it is debated in Parliament next month. To this end, he has participated in a video made by Dying with Dignity NSW, promoting end of life choices. Dr Sarah Edelman, president of Dying with Dignity NSW, said that Dr McPhee has the personal contacts that will enable him to access medication to ensure a peaceful death. “This option is only available to those who have resources and connections, or those who have an advocate who is prepared to break the law on their behalf. The vast majority of Australians also want this choice”. An Essential opinion poll conducted during August found that 73% of Australians support voluntary assisted dying, with 81% support amongst those over 55 years. In the video, Dr McPhee says that his pain is likely to become unbearable and despite having access to every type of medication, none of it is capable of eliminating pain completely. “It will be nothing less than a form of torture,” he said. Dr McPhee says knowing that he will have control over the final stage of his life provides enormous reassurance. Dr Edelman, a clinical psychologist, points out that “one of the greatest benefits of voluntary assisted dying is the reduction in anxiety that comes with the knowledge that the option of a peaceful death will be always be available.” You can view the video here. Another article on medically assisted dying can be read here. [post_title] => Why can’t we die with dignity? [post_excerpt] => Intensive care specialist says: “It will be nothing less than a form of torture.” [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => cant-die-dignity [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-09-08 10:50:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-09-08 00:50:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://governmentnews.com.au/?p=27964 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27939 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-31 15:12:30 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-31 05:12:30 [post_content] => Shannon Gillespie Today, everyone knows that an idea isn’t a good one until it ‘trends’. Last year, the City of Sydney’s Zero Waste marketing campaign featured the creation of an outdoor vinyl sticker campaign that made use of clever situational placement and optical illusions to highlight the problem of dumping household waste throughout the city. Designed for city dwellers to interact with, each piece was customised to its environment to amuse and educate people about the city’s free pickup service. One of the installations was a giant stack of household waste on the side of a building that increased in size every week for three weeks. As a by-product, the hashtag #freepickup and bookafreepickup.com site shot to stardom as people snapped and shared photos of themselves with old fridges, washing machines and the like in odd, but memorable, locations such as the middle of a cycle path. The result, the City claims, was “a virtual doubling of the number of calls to the free pickup service within a week of installation”. Imagine if we took the principles of this social marketing campaign and applied it to our engineering problems. How often do we spend megabucks on infrastructure projects, but do relatively little, if anything, to educate people about the right way to operate infrastructure or to change their behaviours when using it? The 2000 Sydney Olympics was hailed as “the best organised Olympic Games ever” and was the epitome of how an effective marketing and communications plan can solve complex problems. With a population of four million people and an expected influx of half a million visitors to Sydney for the Olympic Games, drastic measures were required to cope with the pressure on infrastructure. But instead of focusing on developing new transport infrastructure, a major public communications plan was executed to modify the travel behaviour of visitors and spectators. The message was simple – Olympic transport will be different but will work well. And it did! The Sydney Olympic Games achieved the first-ever 100 per cent spectator accessibility by public transport. As engineers, our natural response is to design highly sophisticated and intelligent infrastructure that automatically adapts itself to meet the demand. We design complex and expensive control systems to control infrastructures performance and operation. The infrastructure is designed to modulate in response to the variables which, in most cases, are people. But are we looking at society’s complex challenges through the wrong lens? The recent heatwave in South Australia put pressure on the state’s electricity network due to people turning on their air conditioning. As a consequence, 90 000 properties suffered a blackout during load shedding at the end of a 42 degrees Celsius day. While the problem appears to have been a technical one, could we not have modified the behaviour of the people? Experts say that in order to conserve energy in a heatwave, people should not lower their air conditioning below 26 degrees Celsius – this has nothing to do with the comfort of individuals but everything to do with avoiding a catastrophic power outage. Whilst it may not be a long-term solution, an effective marketing campaign would help solve the problem in the interim. We are living in a world where more than ever before, we need our facilities to operate as efficiently and effectively as possible  ̶  not only from an environmental perspective but also from optimising the use of capital. According to the World Economic Forum, global spending on basic infrastructure – transport, water and communications – currently totals USD 2.7 trillion a year, USD 1 trillion short of what is needed. The difference is nearly as large as South Korea’s GDP. As pressure on our natural and economic resources increases, so too does our ability to design effective infrastructure projects. If engineers treated marketing as another tool in their toolkit, how many of our complex infrastructure problems could be solved? How many millions of dollars could be saved on new infrastructure projects simply through marketing campaigns targeted at changing user behaviour? More and more, engineers should be telling their clients that a well-designed behavioural campaign should go hand in hand with a well-designed infrastructure project. In future, we might see Marketing Fundamentals become a standard feature of the Bachelor of Engineering curriculum. Shannon Gillespie is with Aurecon. [post_title] => Facebook and infrastructure [post_excerpt] => What does Facebook have to do with infrastructure? Everything, it would seem! [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => facebook-and-infrastructure [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-31 20:02:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-31 10:02:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://governmentnews.com.au/?p=27939 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27912 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-28 15:12:56 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-28 05:12:56 [post_content] => Michael Aaron For a technology that started out as the basis of cryptocurrency, blockchain has evolved to be so much more. Today, blockchain is poised to disrupt the way dozens of industries are operating, and set to revolutionise the public sector. Indeed, nine in ten government organisations globally plan to invest in blockchain for use in financial transaction management, asset management, contract management and regulatory compliance by 2018, and here in Australia, the trajectory looks similar. Last year, Data61 and Australian government agencies announced that they are undertaking a detailed study to determine what blockchain could all mean for both government and industry. The review will look to provide practical use cases where blockchain technology could be piloted in government services and the private sector, such as sharable registry information, verifiable supply chains and assessment of aggregate risk exposure in the financial services sector. Blockchain is a distributed database that can be used by individuals who want to complete transactions involving multiple parties. Large organisations can use it to collaborate across multiple organisational silos. Large, cross-industry ecosystems may want to use blockchain to handle complex transactions across multiple jurisdictions, and governments may want to use blockchain to help their citizens or in the delivery of new government applications. Trust has never been more important for governments in Australia and around the world. Globalisation means that governments need to find ways to expand the economy, and new ways to improve citizen engagement and accountability. The integration of blockchain technology into government activities will help local, state and federal governments move past a lack of trust, providing transparency for transactions. Ledgers have been used for centuries by governments and businesses to keep account of assets and liabilities, property, records and relevant transactions. But traditionally, ledgers were private and guarded, seen only by an internal few, or auditors. Blockchain takes this old and simple concept and takes it to a new level. Simply put, blockchain acts as a distributed open ledger that can be used to register and record property transactions, healthcare initiatives to track medical records, citizen services and much more. Day-to-day, blockchain can also help government processes and purchases more efficient, reducing the chances of fraud and error. In Australia, private sector organisations are already looking to blockchains as a potential new disruptor. For example, Agricultural technology business AgriDigital, executed the world’s first live settlement of the sale of an agricultural commodity on a blockchain with the sale of 23.46 tonnes of grain in central NSW. Australia Post, announced last year that it was looking at a blockchain technology project for the storing of digital identities, while AGL Energy will test how using blockchain technology could allow households to trade surplus energy from their rooftop solar panels. This initiative will also involve IBM and distributed energy advisers Marchment Hill Consulting and it is hoped it will highlight the regulatory and system changes needed to make the market work effectively, the value in peer-to-peer energy markets, as well as how blockchain technology can be leveraged to make it more effective. Because participants in a transaction on a blockchain have access to the same records, there is no need for third-party intermediaries to validate transactions or verify identities or ownership. Business licenses, property titles, vehicle registrations and other records could all be shifted to blockchains, freeing citizens from the need for lawyers, notaries and trips to government offices to certify that transactions are legal. Additionally, with blockchain consumers, business partners and government groups alike could know with certainty how things are made, stored, transported and sold – whether those assurances relate to child labor, materials or the environment. In a recent global study by IBM’s Institute for Business Value (IBV) and the Economist Intelligence Unit, it was found that government organisations around the world are prioritising blockchain to help reduce innovation roadblocks and inaccurate or incomplete information across their organisations. The results of the study show:
  • Seven in ten government executives predict blockchain will significantly disrupt the area of contract management, which is often the intersection of the public and private sectors
  • 14% of 'trailblazer' government institutions expect to have blockchain in production at scale by 2017, and are utilising blockchain to help reduce time, cost and risk in regulatory compliance, contract engagement, identity management and citizen services.
  • Six in ten governments recognise regulatory constraints as the greatest barrier to the adoption of blockchains, followed closely by what they perceive as immature technology and lack of executive buy-in
The study also found that Asia Pacific is setting the pace of adoption along with Western Europe, with North America trailing. But unlike Western Europe (which ranked 'financial transaction management' as the top area for new business models) and North America, (which focused on the potential of 'borderless services'), Asia Pacific governments expected 'citizen services' to be the area that delivered the greatest innovation through blockchain. Countries in the Asia Pacific region, including Australia, are set to be among the first to really grasp blockchain technology, with the government agencies taking on the technology. This could potentially see these governments begin to make transactions that in the past, they wouldn’t have – this comes down to blockchain addressing the lack of trust issue. Disruption, especially in bureaucratic institutions is rare. Decades later, even the Internet hasn’t drastically changed how governments operate and rarely do they compete in personalized citizen services. That could change as blockchains evolve to bring closer collaboration among citizens and government institutions. Open data (e.g. data that helps pinpoint the optimal location for a new retailer or record soil conditions for farmers) is arguably among a government’s greatest assets. As the societal value from that data grows, government organisations will need to ensure that their data is easily accessible, free to use and available in a consumable format. Likewise, institutions will need to take greater safeguards to protect that data from cyber-attacks. Open data on blockchains meets these imperatives, and can help governments become open governments. Through blockchain technology, government will be better able perform its dual role of facilitating the business innovation of citizens and, at the same time, co-creating better services for citizens, founded on openness and trust. Michael Aaron is the Blockchain leader at IBM.     [post_title] => Blockchain: from e-government to open government [post_excerpt] => The blockchain is set to revolutionise the public sector and disrupt the way dozens of industries are operating. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => blockchain-e-government-open-government [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-28 15:17:31 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-28 05:17:31 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://governmentnews.com.au/?p=27912 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27811 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-14 12:55:26 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-14 02:55:26 [post_content] => Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) president Mayor David O’Loughlin writes that the waste fiasco exposed in the ABC Four Corners report is a complex issue that will have wide-ranging implications for local governments. For those of us who care about the environment and the efficient recycling of Australia's household and industrial waste, the ABC's Four Corners program was troubling. The factors behind the mess Four Corners exposed on Monday may be complex – but we can play a powerful role in fixing them, if we choose to. Four Corners' revelations will undermine the public's confidence in Australia’s waste management systems and, in turn, confidence in their local Council and the amount of rates they are paying for recycling services. We know, however, that the vast majority of Local Governments across Australia manage their waste collection and recycling operations professionally and in an environmentally sustainable manner, after sustained improvements in policy and practice over decades. We also know that Australia's waste management system is subject to market forces, private practice and regulation that is outside the control of our sector, with cross-border differences exacerbating local issues. What also appears to be common is a failure of other levels of governments to effectively patrol the beat - to identify, penalise and stamp out individuals or companies conducting illegal dumping or other practices that undermine the industry as a whole. And, as the Four Corners program showed, the indiscriminate imposition or removal of state landfill levies create disincentives for recycling, and encourages illegal dumping. State government-imposed levies were originally well intended: to support recycling, to reduce waste going to landfills, to remediate landfill sites, and to educate consumers. Some of this has happened, but there is much more to do and the funds appear to be more and more difficult to access to achieve this. In the absence of sufficient leadership or discipline by others, how can Local Government get the results our communities increasingly expect and demand? We may not have regulatory powers, but what we do have is procurement power. Waste management is one of our largest areas of contracted services. We spend vast amounts of money in this area and we can choose how we spend it and who we spend it with. We can also choose our contract conditions, and how we will enforce those contract conditions. As a client, we can insist on the right to inspect and audit the services we contract, to confirm they are receiving and recycling as contracted, as we are paying them to do, and as we have told our communities we are doing on their behalf. The control and enforcement of our contracted services can be in our hands, if we choose it to be. In addition, if the issue is a lack of market demand for recycled products, or products containing recycled material, our procurement powers can also be used to choose and purchase these products in preference to others. In doing so we will be making a clear statement that we want to create a sustainable destination for recyclables - and that we are prepared to trial them, to use them, and to preference them. Sustainable and valuable recycling requires a circular economy. If we want the supply side to work, we should step up and be part of the demand side. As an elected member, if you care about recycling, have you checked your Council’s procurement policies? Have you asked if your road building specifications state a preference for recycled material, including glass and construction waste? Or that your posts, fences and benches should use recycled plastics? Are your paper sources all recycled? Are you prepared to ask your Council to trial new products to help create new markets? As per my recent column, ALGA will continue to do all we can on the national front to improve results, to better design product stewardship schemes and to keep Local Government at the table as part of the solution. You can do your part locally by checking your contracts, your reporting and enforcement practices, and by ensuring your procurement policies help and don't hinder the use of recyclables. In doing so, you should ask if your own Council would survive the level of scrutiny we witnessed on the television. Let's aim to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. [post_title] => The waste problem is a problem for all [post_excerpt] => The waste fiasco exposed in the Four Corners report will have wide-ranging implications for local governments. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => waste-is-all-our-problem [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-14 14:05:07 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-14 04:05:07 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://governmentnews.com.au/?p=27811 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27784 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-07 13:13:10 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-07 03:13:10 [post_content] => Parents need a fair and informed choice, writes incoming CEO of Primary Ethics Evan Hannah. Allowing parents to make an informed choice when enrolling their children in NSW public schools is simply a matter of fairness. But in NSW, you cannot enrol your child in ethics classes on the enrolment form, as you can for religious instruction. The burden is on parents to work through the current confusing process before they finally get the chance to access ethics classes for their child. I became involved with ethics education as a volunteer ethics coordinator three years ago at my son’s school in Sydney’s inner west. As an ethics coordinator, I’ve seen that the unfair approach to enrolment into ethics classes continues to frustrate parents and school staff alike. The government has made it as difficult as possible for parents to access ethics classes for their children. It rejected recommendations from an independent report for parents to be provided with better access to information and enrolment opportunities, and it cannot explain why that is fair or reasonable. Quite simply, we just seek equal treatment for all parents. We’ll continue to work with the Department of Education to streamline the enrolment process for both parents and school staff. Who is Primary Ethics? Primary Ethics was established in 2010 at the request of the NSW Government to provide ethics education for children in NSW public schools. From 1,530 students in the first year of classes, Primary Ethics is now taught to more than 36,000 students by 2,500 volunteers in weekly classes at 450 schools across NSW. An ethics program is launched at a new school approximately every 10 days, but the government enrolment policy is a huge impediment to fulfilling the Primary Ethics goal of offering the program to the rest of the estimated 70,000 students who are currently spending one lesson a week in the holding pattern of ‘non-scripture’. The continuing confusion about enrolments obviously affects our growth. We know when one school decides to start Primary Ethics classes, and we train volunteers who then begin teaching, it has a domino effect on nearby schools as awareness grows. Removing the ridiculous block on informed choice would give more NSW children a chance to learn skills to make better decisions. Public support for an ethics-based complement to Special Religious Education (SRE), began in the early 2000s and culminated in an amendment to the NSW Education Act in 2010 to enable Special Education in Ethics (SEE) classes to be delivered alongside religious instruction during the designated timeslot. This was significant, because it was the first time since 1866 that children who did not take scripture could instead take part in an activity of benefit to the child, instead of effectively doing nothing. Until 2010, the Education Act mandated that children who did not attend scripture could not undertake any learning during this timeslot to ensure that children receiving religious instruction did not miss out. Discussion-based ethics classes are facilitated by trained local volunteers using a curriculum written by specialist in philosophy and education, Dr Sue Knight, and reviewed by both an internal committee and the Department of Education. The stage 3 (years 5 & 6) lesson materials were completed in 2011, the first year that the ethics program was rolled out. A new stage-based curriculum was developed each year, and from 2015, the program has been available for delivery across all primary-school stages, from kindergarten to year 6.     We now have an excellent, world-first ethics curriculum available free for communities to use to educate their children. And thanks to donations, we are also able to provide recruitment, screening, and free training and support for volunteers willing to be involved in delivering those lessons. Primary Ethics is the sole provider of ethics classes in NSW. The free program is taught by trained volunteers following a curriculum written for various primary school stages, covering years K-6. The curriculum is approved as age-appropriate by the Department of Education. Evan Hannah is a former journalist and news media manager who became CEO of the not-for-profit organisation in July.     [post_title] => Schools: we need clarity around the ethics option [post_excerpt] => Parents need a fair and informed choice, writes Evan Hannah. 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[caption id="attachment_27770" align="alignnone" width="300"] You create a lot of healthcare data during your life. What happens after it? Tewan Banditrukkanka/Shutterstock[/caption] Jon Cornwall, Victoria University of Wellington Death is inevitable. The creation of healthcare records about every complaint and ailment we seek treatment for is also a near-certainty. Data about patients is a vital cog in the provision of efficient health services. Our study explores what happens to those healthcare records after you die. We focus on New Zealand’s legal situation and practices, but the issue is truly a global one.
Read More: Decades on from Henrietta Lacks, we’re still struggling to find an adequate consent model
Previously, healthcare records were held in paper form and stored in an archive. Next came the advent of digital storage in on-site databases. When you died, your records were either shredded or erased, depending on the technology. But it is now increasingly common for healthcare records to be digitised and held in a central repository. They can potentially be held for an indefinite period after someone dies, depending on the jurisdiction. Should we be worried?

A question of value

Large, population-based healthcare data sets have immense value. This is particularly true of records that include genomic information alongside other healthcare data – a phenomenon that will only increase as information about a person’s genes is more widely used in clinical treatment. These posthumous healthcare data sets, which will grow in size and detail over the coming decades, could tell us a great deal about diseases and heritability. Data sets from generations of families and communities may well be available for research, and able to be analysed. Information on this scale is worth a lot, especially for data storage companies and those with a financial interest in these data sets, such as pharmaceutical companies. Imagine, for instance, if a company could quickly analyse millions of genomes to isolate a disease that could be cured by an engineered pharmaceutical, and the commercial value this would create. So how will this affect the individual whose data is held and their surviving family? Many people would be willing to donate medical records if the downstream result was beneficial for their community and country. Yet the lines become easily blurred. Would it be acceptable if data sets were sent to foreign companies? What if they provided a cure free of charge to the families of citizens whose data they used? How about if the cure was half price, or full price, but the other option was having no cure at all? Would it be all right for companies to make millions of dollars out of this information? There is no easy answer. [caption id="attachment_27771" align="alignnone" width="300"] Every time you visit a doctor’s office, you create data. Keith Bell/Shutterstock[/caption]

What’s the legal situation?

It’s impossible to talk about the long term fate of healthcare data without considering privacy and consent. As part of medical research, for example, participants are required to provide informed consent and often the gathered data are anonymised. Access to posthumous medical records, on the other hand, is not highly regulated or protected in most countries, and the laws surrounding access are incredibly unclear. In New Zealand, a deceased person has no privacy rights under the Privacy Act. And while healthcare data has to be held for a minimum of 10 years after death, the regulatory body which is then custodian of that data may decide - broadly - what purposes it may be used for. Given that the custodian can be anyone from a health board or local doctor to a commercial institution that stores health records, the situation is exceedingly vague.
Read More: Human embryo CRISPR advances science but let’s focus on ethics, not world firsts
It is often argued that use of anonymous data sets do not require consent from an individual – in our case, a deceased person cannot provide this anyway. However the lines of true “anonymity” are becoming more blurred, particularly thanks to genomics. Your own genome is partly that of your family and relatives. They may also have an emotional stake, and possibly a legal stake, in any action or research where the genome of a deceased family member is involved. The medical profession has not always dealt well with consent and ethics issues. In one infamous case, the cancer cells of Henrietta Lacks – a 31-year-old American woman who died of cervical cancer in 1951 – have been used thousands of times in research projects. She unwittingly made an invaluable contribution to global health, yet she never consented and her family was not consulted. Then there is the fact that if large data bases are readily available, the possibility of data linkage increases – matching data sets that may belong to the same person – potentially undermining the ability to maintain true anonymity for the individual and their family.

What happens now?

The New Zealand and Australian governments have signalled that healthcare data are a widely underused resource. Commercialisation of such data is a possibility. At some point, large posthumous healthcare data sets from these countries could potentially be accessed by researchers and private institutions around the world. It is time for the public to decide what they think is reasonable. If the use of posthumous healthcare data is not aligned with the wishes of society, especially its desire for anonymity, the trust between our healthcare providers and patients may become compromised. The ConversationHealthcare data sets have immense value, but the public must be consulted about their use. Only then can the potential of posthumous healthcare data sets be properly realised. Jon Cornwall, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Health, Victoria University of Wellington This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. [post_title] => Healthcare records: take them to the grave? [post_excerpt] => Our healthcare records outlive us. It's time to decide what happens to the data once we're gone. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 27766 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-07 15:08:17 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-07 05:08:17 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27766 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27781 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-07 09:03:28 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-06 23:03:28 [post_content] => Andrew Ferrington The third series of 'Utopia', the fan favourite for all who have worked in an office, premiered last month. The series — created by the prolific Working Dog team — tells of the National Building Authority's coexisting contrary tensions of bureaucracy and ‘blue sky’ ambitions. At the outset, let me disclose that I spent more than 15 years in a variety of roles in public service and am now back in the private world. The show is great — the ministerial adviser tries to highlight the positives of the NBA's ambitions, while the authority itself grapples with its commission to be ambitious in its outlook. The show makes its mark by illustrating the tensions between the government, its ministers and the institutions that oversee it, all while the NBA attempts to complete public brief it has to envision the future. The thing that concerns me is not the laughs at the bureaucracy's expense, it’s what it points out about the private sector. The big-picture thinking that always gets a laugh, is now nowhere to be seen. Because it can't be. Only government is able to take the risk to lead such big change. The private sector not only can't – but won't. It doesn't have the mandate, the appetite or the ability to dream large with these projects. The trope that "we don't need the government" as Rob Sitch's character says in episode one, becomes simply wrong. No entity but the government can make a decision or show the leadership that is needed to execute projects that bring about fundamental changes to society. Further, the contemporary discussion about ‘small’ government and that it should get out of the way of business is also a nonsense. If we didn't have government imagining these large projects, taking risks that the private sector can't even conceive of, and spending the money (yes, our money), society would be nothing like it is today. We do well to understand the context in which government works, because it is important. This leadership trickles down: while the government mandates that women, people with a disability or indigenous peoples have a significant contribution to play in society, the private sector is far behind. As a former bureaucrat, 'Utopia' makes me laugh. Yes, I've seen these behaviours: where the tyranny and vanity of politics overrules all. But it also makes me sad, because it mocks the leadership role that government plays, and the vision and ideas that the private sector can't possibly imagine. Next time you leave home (which is standing solidly, because government regulations mandated it should be built to a certain standard), think about the water, electricity and other services you use, the roads you drive on, footpaths you walk on, and trains you might catch. While they may be delivered by the private sector, they were planned and imagined by governments. And without them, we would be significantly worse off. Andrew Ferrington is the national tenders manager at Findex Group.   [post_title] => There is no private ‘Utopia’ [post_excerpt] => Government is the only one working to create a 'Utopia'. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => no-private-utopia [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-07 15:04:55 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-07 05:04:55 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27781 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 14 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28109 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-09-25 13:49:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-09-25 03:49:52 [post_content] => Keith Dodds The procurement reforms recently announced by Angus Taylor, Assistant Minister for Digital Transformation and Gavin Slater, the new CEO of the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA), represent a step in the right direction for digital innovation in government – but when it comes to breaking the back of old-school technology procurement, we are only just scratching the surface. The Australian government is the largest single buyer of IT services in Australia, spending $6.5 billion annually. It’s all taxpayer-funded and much of it is being misspent. For 40 years, big, multinational software package vendors have enjoyed procurement practices that have effectively enabled them to hold the government and its citizens ‘hostage’. Their long-running, multi-year contracts with big bang deliverables have cost government and taxpayers dearly, often with disastrous results (think #CensusFail and Queensland Health to name just two). Limiting contracts to three years, with no extensions, and capping contract amounts at $100 million will certainly curb some of the damage. However, many applauded the reforms for their potential to open up new opportunities for the local start-up community, yet existing panel arrangements favour an old-school approach that benefits large incumbents and encourages near-monopolistic practices – while continuing to stifle younger, smaller and more innovative companies. It is not just start-ups, either, as many smaller service providers have struggled for years against the current contract and procurement system.   When the Turnbull government promised to have a “whole of government digital transformation strategy” in place by the end of 2016 if re-elected, our team helped the DTA facilitate a process of intensive interviews and workshops to cross-fertilise thinking across a wide range of federal government agencies. The end result was a Government Digital Transformation Roadmap. The procurement taskforce report acknowledges the need for “a comprehensive ICT strategy to help guide agencies’ ICT procurement decisions in order to drive the government’s digital transformation agenda”. However, government won’t be able to truly embrace innovative digital transformation until it creates the right conditions – an environment that breeds and nurtures suppliers who are capable of delivering the innovative solutions it needs. In the meantime, the delay is costing hundreds of millions of dollars during a time of fiscal restraint. The waste must stop. In the UK, the Government Digital Service took steps in the very early stages of its digital transformation to break the procurement stranglehold of entrenched players. A plethora of new suppliers are now serving the UK Government, and taxpayers, as a result. This is one of the reasons the UK (and other European countries) are further advanced when it comes to citizen-centric digital services. In Australia, we need to set an aggressive, mandatory deadline for the replacement of the outdated panel system and establish a truly open marketplace in its place. The DTA’s Digital Marketplace was intended to do this, but many large agencies are barely using it (if at all). The government must also look to expand its use of open source. The government’s Digital Service Standard mandates the use of open standards where appropriate, making all new source code open by default and measuring performance against KPI reported on a public dashboard. Yet closed, proprietary packages remain the rule, not the exception. Finally, it is critical that compliance with these objectives is made mandatory and public. The DTA’s ‘Performance Dashboard’ aims to “make data open and accessible by measuring the performance of Australian government services” and promote government transparency, but it does not report on contract awards by vendor, longevity, open source versus proprietary solutions, etc. Such visibility is required to make and measure demonstrable progress and to adequately serve the public interest, which at the end of the day, is the government’s primary obligation. Keith Dodds is the director of client relations in Australia for ThoughtWorks.   [post_title] => Digital procurement needs major reforms [post_excerpt] => Antiquated government procurement is still impending innovative digital transformation. 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