Organisational capability— information and communication technology
Our complex business requires capable and committed staff, and modern information and communication technology (ICT). Since 2011–12, we have used the ICT Strategic Plan to ensure we have a robust and business-focussed infrastructure to support our operations and to meet future business needs including biosecurity reform and the government’s deregulation agenda.
We have responded to changing business needs with work to stabilise, consolidate and enhance our ICT capability. Underpinning this work is an enterprise-wide approach to ICT services and their use by business areas.
We have made the security of emerging ICT a priority. We have done this by creating a state-of-the-art secure data centre, procuring secure networks, updating backup and recovery processes for our data, scanning emails for viruses and other threats, and upgrading the way we manage devices connected to our network.
Business services are increasingly delivered online and we are using modern application and network technologies to deliver services through the channels that best suit our clients and stakeholders. We have delivered internal efficiencies and service improvements by establishing cross-programme product and service delivery mechanisms, greater workforce mobility and more robust systems and communications capability.
Investing in our technology
We have created an enterprise architecture that describes how our ICT systems will evolve to support future business changes. This guides our investment in business and ICT change, and supports decision-making by:
- scoping solutions that contribute to achieving the department’s strategic priorities in line with whole-of-government initiatives such as digital transformation
- prioritising projects based on the degree to which initiatives contribute to organisational change
- promoting and monitoring the development of enterprise solutions that maximise return on investment through shared ICT capability
- determining and managing the impact of changes.
Modernising our systems
Our Windows 8 Mobility project is a key contributor to the department’s Service Delivery Modernisation (SDM) programme. The project will provide a reliable and secure ICT mobility capability that will enable more efficient and effective delivery of services. In early 2015, we rolled out 600 tablets, 300 standard desktops and 100 high-end personal computers in areas such as Quarantine Approved Premises, where cargo clearance, inspection and surveillance services are provided.
The project has significantly improved the delivery of biosecurity services in the field and at remote sites. It has also integrated new mobile and network technologies with our existing applications. We have reduced the time the department takes to complete transactions, which directly benefits cargo importers and brokers through much faster release of shipments at the point of entry.
Improving our websites
We migrated the department’s website to the SharePoint platform in October 2014 and launched a redesigned website and new information architecture in February 2015. The new architecture makes it easier for people to find information and the website is now designed for use with mobile devices.
We also upgraded another 10 websites maintained by the department, including the Manual of Importing Country Requirements and the ministerial websites.
Cutting red tape
Cargo Online Lodgement System
In March 2015, we launched the Cargo Online Lodgement System (COLS), as part of the SDM programme. COLS has improved our cargo clearance services by replacing multiple face-to-face and email contacts with a single, web-based document lodgement facility. It enables the department to prioritise, allocate and monitor the document assessment process within agreed service levels.
COLS also aims to increase the effectiveness of our biosecurity staff by reducing the number of face-to-face document assessments completed at regional offices. The online facility establishes a national priority-based queue for all client service requests. Staff can then focus on core services like inspections and surveillance.
ICT Strategic Plan 2015–2019
In 2015, we updated the ICT Strategic Plan for the next four years. The department now has a reliable and secure ICT infrastructure to underpin stakeholder and client operations. The updated ICT Strategic Plan reflects our change in focus to provide value-added services that build on our investment.
The updated strategy will ensure we continue to grow our ICT capability and sets out initiatives to change the way we support our staff in their day-to-day work.
Introducing new technology
The introduction of new technologies in the department was a challenge in 2014–15. We worked to ensure the deployment of Windows 7 and Windows 8 Direct Access was compatible with our existing applications.
We used Windows 7 Direct Access to give staff secure remote access to our network using unsecure communications channels. This application has streamlined the logon process by letting staff use their department access with no requirement for additional security or proprietary devices.
Maintaining heritage systems
We are continuing to support and maintain our heritage systems during the transition to integrated applications. The heritage systems have been developed and enhanced with additional business requirements over many years and continue to provide essential functions to our busiest operational areas.
These systems require substantial remediation to support business needs until we can redevelop them to run on new technologies. Only skilled staff with critical knowledge of these systems can provide the necessary level of support. Retaining this knowledge and skills base within the department is a major challenge. As a general rule, we will only make essential changes to these systems until there is investment in their remediation.
Refreshing the desktop fleet
We have commenced a major project to modernise our ageing desktop personal computers. We will upgrade the department to Windows 8.1 and Microsoft Office 2013 to provide users with a stable, better-performing device that includes the latest remote access technology.
This initiative has been managed to provide a seamless transition for staff. We have prioritised re-equipping frontline staff in regional and remote offices. In 2015, we moved into the final pilot phase of Windows 8.1 to prepare for the department’s move to new devices from July 2015.
Keeping up with demand
Our ICT specialists must be able to support and maintain ageing technology, and develop skills for the new technology and services introduced under the ICT strategy. The department has a smaller ICT workforce compared with other large APS agencies and continues to deliver a significant change agenda.
These pressures have created a significant workload for our ICT staff and it has been difficult to recruit in the current environment. We are using contract staff to implement new projects supported by additional funding. We are focusing on prioritising effectively to ensure we have ICT service continuity and can deliver on our key objectives.