Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Louise Hand PSM

Since February 2015, the red tape review has sought out and addressed processes that have become obstacles as we go about our work. Following many consultations in Canberra and with posts, the review found that some of our processes were taking us away from tackling the really important issues facing us as a department.

One of our discoveries about DFAT’s red tape was that that it was strongly emblematic of a culture that was untrusting, cripplingly risk averse, used each other’s time poorly, and stopped us having a go at new ways of doing things. Our second discovery was that colleagues were none of these things. They were willing to trust each other, use time well, and keen to bring new and better practises to work with them. They were entirely ready for newly possible electronic solutions.

Having identified 70 recommendations to untangle ourselves from excessive red tape, the review moved to a phase of working with divisions to implement these recommendations.

We are pleased that many of these recommendations have either been fully implemented or are well underway. We now have more space to focus our efforts on our core roles. Having pinpointed around $16 million in savings, we can now afford to better reward our best asset – our people. This yield benefits for us as an organisation now and over the long term.

But there is more to do. A number of recommendations relate to upgrading or replacing complex systems and these major projects will take longer to be realised. Red tape creeps back, we will need to encourage the culture of ideas and be alert to better ways of doing things. From time to time, we should submit to another spring clean…

In the meantime, we are going to make a short film, the “red tape sequel” to show how far we’ve come.

Louise Hand PSM
First Assistant Secretary
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
December 2015

Highlights – The top 10 wins from DFAT’s red tape review

1. Produce electronic forms and signatures

original recommendation #1

Completed: IMD has introduced electronic versions of high usage staff movement forms (New SATIN User Form and SATIN Relocation Form). This has ended the requirement for officers to manually complete a form and collect physical signatures (from a Divisional Coordinator and Security Section). The introduction of these forms will help officers get up and running much more quickly when they commence a new role –and without the literal running around. The process will be further enhanced with the introduction of a new service desk tool - ‘Remedy’.

2. Realign DCU responsibilities

original recommendation #6

Completed: Reflecting their role as our pinnacle corporate enablers, Divisional Coordinators are now authorised to provide a range of approvals without seeking counter-signatures from Directors or SES officers. Divisional Coordinators can now provide the following approvals: Visiting HOM/HOP SATIN form; SATIN access; Cable access; Telephone Directory; Administrator access to branch/divisional group email accounts; changes to active directory/EDRMS Security model; mobile device request; FOB request; clearance request for non-ongoing staff; pass request for contractors; RG Casey pass application for staff from another agency; and keywatcher access forms.

3. Brief in new ways (more talking less writing)

original recommendation #4

Completed: Administrative Circular of 13 November provides guidance to Divisions on preparing effective briefing, including the option of using verbal briefing as an alternative to written briefs. While the advice has now been provided, the uptake of verbal briefings will depend to a great degree upon leadership and the degree of encouragement provided to this practice throughout the department.

4. Introduce single briefing template

original recommendation #5

Completed: A new portal providing access to a number of standardised briefing templates has been introduced for trial on SATIN Low.  Administrative Circular of 13 November refers.

5. Work even smarter

original recommendation #10

Completed: The briefing aspect of this recommendation was taken up as element of guidance on briefing.  Administrative Circular of 13 November refers. To address another aspect of this recommendation work areas are encouraged to make use of stand-up meetings and other arrangements to keep meetings short and purposeful.

6. Provide IT solutions for travellers

original recommendation #26

Completed: Administrative Circular  of 31 August 2015 outlines expanded SATIN Low mobile access options for staff to enable them to connect with departmental systems when working away from their desks. The process for requesting a SATIN or standalone laptop and a Remote Access token has been reviewed and updated.   There has been an 11% increase in requests for iDevices in less than three months since the release of the Administrative Circular, when compared to previous months. A total of 2203 iDevices are now allocated to DFAT staff.

7. Order tea, coffee and water (without a fuss)

original recommendation #22

Completed: A streamlined system has been introduced which is genuinely electronic and no longer requires manual completion of two separate forms, scanning and sending. Tea, coffee and water can now be requested through a single electronic form which is emailed directly to the relevant areas. It is now possible to order tea, coffee and water in thirty seconds – and without fuss. The new system has generated a significant number of messages of appreciation

8. Move notarial acts to passport offices

original recommendation #16

Completed: CCD and APO agreed to allow the transfer of legalisations (involving payment and therefore a range of financial duties) from state offices to co-located APO offices. APO officers are already delegated to perform these roles, so the change has avoided duplication of functions and realised considerable efficiencies.

9. Bigger email inboxes

original recommendation #52 

Completed. Satin Low Outlook mailbox capacity increased from 250MB to 512MB, and increase in the SATIN Low Outlook email send/receive limit from 5MB to 10MB. See Administrative Circular of 23 July.

10. Installation of equipment required for WHS

original recommendation #44

Completed. The process for workstation assessments and obtaining sit/stand desks has been streamlined. See Administrative Circular of 6 October.