Administrative and organisational changes
The Administrative Arrangements Orders of 21 October 1998 transferred the Maritime function to the Department of Transport and Regional Services (DOTARS) from the former Department of Workplace Relations and Small Business (Program 5).
Some regional and rural programs were transferred to the Department from the former Department of Primary Industries and Energy (subprogram 1.5). They included Rural Plan, Countrylink Australia, CreditCare, part of the Rural Women's Unit, Rural Development Centre Grant, Rural Domestic Violence Programme, Research, Information and Data Fund, Rural Communities Program, and the Understanding Rural Australia Program.
Output Class 1-Aviation Policy and Output Class 2-Aviation Operations were restructured from 1 July 1998 and renamed Output Class 1-Aviation and Output Class 2-Airports. Consequent changes to the Budgeted Financial Statements were reflected in the 1998-99 Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements.
Figure 1 shows the organisational structure as at 30 June 1999.
Download Organisational Structure as at 30 June 1999 [PDF: 191 KB]  as Adobe Acrobat PDF document.
The Executive Group was established in October 1998 to encourage a more strategic and collegiate approach to issues facing the Department. The Group comprised the Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Executive Coordinator and all Division Heads. On 1 July 1999, a second Deputy Secretary replaced the Executive Coordinator.
The purpose of the Executive Group is to:
- reinforce DOTARS' reason for being, settle and broadcast our purpose, project our future and be the guardian of our values;
- focus on people as the Department's first priority; and
- determine what the Department wants to accomplish and the worthwhile results produced, as viewed from outside the organisation.
The Group met 16 times during 1998-99 to consider papers on a variety of strategic issues. Group members reviewed the Group's operations in June 1999. Recommendations focusing on improving communication with the rest of the Department will be implemented in 1999-2000. Questions in the staff survey planned for May 2000 will also provide evaluation information about the effectiveness of the Group from a broader staff perspective.
A key strategic initiative of the Executive Group was the establishment of an Environment Group. The Environment Group was designed to help the Department identify and respond in the wider environmental policy debate to those developments of particular relevance to the portfolio:
- greenhouse gas emissions;
- implementation of environment measures associated with the A New Tax System package; and
- a mode-by-mode assessment of the impact of the Government's new environment legislation.
Internal and external scrutiny
The Planning, Evaluation and Audit Committee (PEAC) was responsible for those matters normally dealt with by audit committees. It was chaired by the Deputy Secretary and included an SES officer from each division. PEAC met four times between 1 July 1998 and 14 December 1998, when it was replaced by a new Audit Committee in line with the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997. In addition to its scheduled quarterly meetings, PEAC held two extraordinary meetings in 1998 to consider issues relating to the Business Planning Framework and the 1997-98 financial statements.
The Secretary approved on 14 December 1998 the Audit Committee Charter, which was developed in line with the Australian National Audit Office Better Practice Guide. A copy has been placed on the Department's Intranet. The Audit Committee is chaired by Mr John Bowdler, Deputy Secretary, and held two meetings in 1998-99. The Committee is scheduled to meet quarterly, but may consider matters out of session as required.
Portfolio Ministers have set a maximum time limit of 21 days on responses to their correspondence. During 1998-99, the average time taken from receipt in the Department to return to the Ministers' offices was 29.3 days.
The Department is trialing a reporting mechanism with Ministers' offices to provide feedback on the extent to which performance indicators for the provision of policy advice and Ministerial services are met. The mechanism will enable the Department to identify areas where remedial action is indicated.
RESULTS THROUGH PEOPLE
The Department continues to build organisational capability using its 'Results through People' philosophy.
The Corporate Plan, launched in December 1998, put in place the high-level settings for the integration of the 'results' and 'people' elements of the Department's activities. An important component of the Corporate Plan was an articulation of values, developed using staff focus groups. These departmental values are expressed as follows:
We achieve our results in ways that reflect Australian Public Service values and principles. In particular, we expect our people to be:
- honest and professional;
- accountable for their actions;
- responsive to the needs of Government, business partners and our people.
We believe that a safe, fair, diverse and flexible workplace, where people are trusted, is the best work environment. This trust is fostered by:
- communicating openly and regularly;
- recognising people's contributions and investing in their potential;
- leading by example and with clarity.
The Corporate Plan was distributed to all staff in a 'Results through People' folder. This brought together for the first time the documentation that staff need to refer to in their work, including their individual Plan on a Page, Branch and Division business plans, and the Linking People with Business policy guidelines that outline the Department's approach to work.
Following IiP accreditation, the 'diagonal slice' taskforce (i.e. a group consisting of people from each division and at most levels), that had guided the Department's IiP strategy implementation, was disbanded and replaced by a Results through People taskforce, the initial focus being to develop aggregate indicators of business performance.
Insight and People+
In October 1998 the Department implemented a SAP R/3-based financial management information system, called 'Insight'. Key drivers for the decision were the financial reform processes adopted by the Commonwealth in relation to accrual accounting, budgeting, management reporting, and Year 2000 compliance issues. The reform process, coupled with an increasing desire by the Department to progress toward best-practice financial management, led to the decision to adopt SAP R/3 as the platform for the Department's financial systems.
Following the Department of Finance and Administration's decision to withdraw from 30 June 1999 from the provision of Commonwealth payroll and central accounting payments services, the Department decided to implement SAP's 'human resources' module, incorporating payroll, to complement the SAP R/3 financial module.
The guiding principles for implementing the new SAP R/3 systems are that its functionality will:
- support the corporate goals of the Department;
- support the operational needs of departmental business managers and other users;
- provide best practice, including flexible business reports;
- process remuneration for staff;
- minimise staff processing activity and system maintenance; and
- integrate with the Department's business management information system.
People+ implementation is phased, Phase 1 encompassing provision of payroll and leave processing. Phase 2 will focus on staff development activities, workforce planning, automation of some recruitment functions, and the possible streamlining of some allowances.
Phase 1 was completed in July 1999, and Phase 2 will be implemented in late 1999. Refinements to the system will continue throughout 1999-2000.
The Department is a member of Group 5 for outsourcing its information technology and telecommunications (IT&T) infrastructure services. The group includes the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, the Department of Industry, Science and Resources, and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. A request for tender was issued on 1 June 1998.
The October 1998 federal election delayed the evaluation and selection process. Following the election there was a significant restructuring of participating departments, which led to the withdrawal of the Department of Workplace Relations and Small Business from the process. Supplementary bids were then sought from the selected short list of bidders and evaluated. Advantra was eventually awarded the contract on 14 April 1999, the hand-over occurring on 1 July 1999.
A small team of staff remained with the Department to handle IT&T policy, security, strategy, Year 2000 management issues and management of the new contract. All other technical staff were declared surplus to requirements.
THE WAY AHEAD
In view of the strategic transport issues facing the Department, in particular the current major Transport Review and the Department's enhanced approach to regional and rural services and development, a new organisational structure was implemented with effect from 1 July 1999. The changes are intended to improve delivery of outputs and administered items to Government consistent with the Department's Corporate Plan, Portfolio Budget Statements and 'Results through People' framework. The new organisational structure is shown in Figure 2.
Download New Organisational Structure [PDF: 231 KB]  as Adobe Acrobat PDF document.
Given the importance of and growth in regional service responsibilities, the work of the former Regional Services, Territories and Local Government Division has been divided between two new divisions, Regional Services, Development and Local Government, and Territories and Regional Support.
A new Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has been established combining the safety elements of the Federal Office of Road Safety (FORS), the Maritime Incident Investigation Unit, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (formerely Bureau of Air Safety Investigation) and a rail safety unit. Parts of FORS, responsible for road transport reform matters and vehicle safety standards, transferred to Land Transport Division.
The ATSB provides an opportunity to 'do things better' by enabling better cooperation and exchange of information and expertise to be realised, especially among the safety investigation functions for aviation, maritime and rail.
The structure will be revised later in 1999 in the light of the Bureau of Air Safety Investigation Review report (released 6 August 1999) and experience with operations.
Maritime Division and Cross-modal Transport Branch have been combined to improve the Department's cross-modal transport focus and foster the development of the Department's trade facilitation and logistics approach, and to give further impetus to efforts on the electronic commerce front.