Main Menu

WP_Query Object
(
    [query] => Array
        (
            [tag] => news-3
        )

    [query_vars] => Array
        (
            [tag] => news-3
            [error] => 
            [m] => 
            [p] => 0
            [post_parent] => 
            [subpost] => 
            [subpost_id] => 
            [attachment] => 
            [attachment_id] => 0
            [name] => 
            [static] => 
            [pagename] => 
            [page_id] => 0
            [second] => 
            [minute] => 
            [hour] => 
            [day] => 0
            [monthnum] => 0
            [year] => 0
            [w] => 0
            [category_name] => 
            [cat] => 
            [tag_id] => 15924
            [author] => 
            [author_name] => 
            [feed] => 
            [tb] => 
            [paged] => 0
            [meta_key] => 
            [meta_value] => 
            [preview] => 
            [s] => 
            [sentence] => 
            [title] => 
            [fields] => 
            [menu_order] => 
            [embed] => 
            [category__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [category__not_in] => Array
                (
                    [0] => 22371
                )

            [category__and] => Array
                (
                )

            [post__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [post__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [post_name__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag__and] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag_slug__in] => Array
                (
                    [0] => news-3
                )

            [tag_slug__and] => Array
                (
                )

            [post_parent__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [post_parent__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [author__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [author__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [post_type] => Array
                (
                    [post] => post
                    [page] => page
                    [attachment] => attachment
                    [revision] => revision
                    [nav_menu_item] => nav_menu_item
                    [custom_css] => custom_css
                    [customize_changeset] => customize_changeset
                    [oembed_cache] => oembed_cache
                    [user_request] => user_request
                    [sponsoredcontent] => sponsoredcontent
                    [ai1ec_event] => ai1ec_event
                    [guest-author] => guest-author
                    [ngg_album] => ngg_album
                    [ngg_gallery] => ngg_gallery
                    [ngg_pictures] => ngg_pictures
                    [lightbox_library] => lightbox_library
                    [plugin_filter] => plugin_filter
                    [plugin_group] => plugin_group
                    [ssp_slider] => ssp_slider
                    [slide] => slide
                    [portfolio] => portfolio
                    [displayed_gallery] => displayed_gallery
                    [display_type] => display_type
                    [gal_display_source] => gal_display_source
                )

            [ignore_sticky_posts] => 
            [suppress_filters] => 
            [cache_results] => 1
            [update_post_term_cache] => 1
            [lazy_load_term_meta] => 1
            [update_post_meta_cache] => 1
            [posts_per_page] => 14
            [nopaging] => 
            [comments_per_page] => 50
            [no_found_rows] => 
            [order] => DESC
        )

    [tax_query] => WP_Tax_Query Object
        (
            [queries] => Array
                (
                    [0] => Array
                        (
                            [taxonomy] => category
                            [terms] => Array
                                (
                                    [0] => 22371
                                )

                            [field] => term_id
                            [operator] => NOT IN
                            [include_children] => 
                        )

                    [1] => Array
                        (
                            [taxonomy] => post_tag
                            [terms] => Array
                                (
                                    [0] => news-3
                                )

                            [field] => slug
                            [operator] => IN
                            [include_children] => 1
                        )

                )

            [relation] => AND
            [table_aliases:protected] => Array
                (
                    [0] => wp_term_relationships
                )

            [queried_terms] => Array
                (
                    [post_tag] => Array
                        (
                            [terms] => Array
                                (
                                    [0] => news-3
                                )

                            [field] => slug
                        )

                )

            [primary_table] => wp_posts
            [primary_id_column] => ID
        )

    [meta_query] => WP_Meta_Query Object
        (
            [queries] => Array
                (
                )

            [relation] => 
            [meta_table] => 
            [meta_id_column] => 
            [primary_table] => 
            [primary_id_column] => 
            [table_aliases:protected] => Array
                (
                )

            [clauses:protected] => Array
                (
                )

            [has_or_relation:protected] => 
        )

    [date_query] => 
    [queried_object] => WP_Term Object
        (
            [term_id] => 15924
            [name] => news-3
            [slug] => news-3
            [term_group] => 0
            [term_taxonomy_id] => 15924
            [taxonomy] => post_tag
            [description] => 
            [parent] => 0
            [count] => 368
            [filter] => raw
        )

    [queried_object_id] => 15924
    [request] => SELECT SQL_CALC_FOUND_ROWS  wp_posts.ID FROM wp_posts  LEFT JOIN wp_term_relationships ON (wp_posts.ID = wp_term_relationships.object_id) WHERE 1=1  AND ( 
  wp_posts.ID NOT IN (
				SELECT object_id
				FROM wp_term_relationships
				WHERE term_taxonomy_id IN (22364)
			) 
  AND 
  wp_term_relationships.term_taxonomy_id IN (15924)
) AND wp_posts.post_type IN ('post', 'page', 'attachment', 'revision', 'nav_menu_item', 'custom_css', 'customize_changeset', 'oembed_cache', 'user_request', 'sponsoredcontent', 'ai1ec_event', 'guest-author', 'ngg_album', 'ngg_gallery', 'ngg_pictures', 'lightbox_library', 'plugin_filter', 'plugin_group', 'ssp_slider', 'slide', 'portfolio', 'displayed_gallery', 'display_type', 'gal_display_source') AND (wp_posts.post_status = 'publish') GROUP BY wp_posts.ID ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC LIMIT 0, 14
    [posts] => Array
        (
            [0] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 31239
                    [post_author] => 674
                    [post_date] => 2018-07-20 10:38:54
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-07-20 00:38:54
                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_20368" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Governments have to produce increasingly sophisticated fiscal reports while making them user-friendly.[/caption]

Australia’s efforts to improve government fiscal reporting have been highlighted in an OECD report, which recommends greater use of summaries and analyses.

In an era of commitment to transparency and accountability, where everyone from economists and investors to citizens and lobby groups are demanding greater access to probe the state’s finances, governments are under pressure to deliver increasingly sophisticated fiscal reporting.

But this increasing sophistication has often come at the expense of clarity and governments internationally have sought to “rationalise” fiscal reporting to make it more legible for users.  

Australia has made some notable progress in the area, according to a new report by the OECD’s budgeting and public expenditure division.

The paper, which looked at Australia, Canada, France and the UK, found the nations’ collective efforts were “a testimony to governments’ commitment to fiscal transparency and accountability.”

Nonetheless, it found there were still a number of mainly “technical” issues with government fiscal reports, such as using different accounting bases or classifications which made them “difficult to navigate”.

“In addition, information provided in fiscal reports is sometimes overly technical, hence difficult to understand and make use of for non-technical readers,” said the paper’s author Delphine Moretti, a senior policy analyst who leads the division’s work on finance management and reporting.

Australian initiatives 

In all countries studied there has been a push for “faster closure” of year-end financial reports, Ms Moretti found, and “good results” were found in Australia where audited financial statements are published within three and five months after the end of the financial year for the whole of the Australian Government.   Australia was also performing well in the provision of data underpinning charts and tables online which allows for secondary analysis or use. While Australia, France and the UK publish excel sheets or CSV files containing budget data in addition to their year-end financial reports, the “comprehensiveness and regularity of the data publication varies depending on countries.” Australia publishes “a relatively large set of data compared to other countries both monthly and at year-end,” Ms Moretti found. Elsewhere, with parliaments internationally calling for more performance information, which is crucial to scrutiny and government accountability, Ms Moretti points to Australia and Canada’s new performance frameworks:
“Under these new frameworks departments are expected to define performance objectives in annual ‘plans’ and report their results in their annual financial reports. For example, under the Australian Government’s new performance framework, reporting entities (portfolio departments and agencies) have been required to include summary performance information in documents presented to parliament to inform the budget discussion...”
Australia is also cited for its leading work in providing cost-benefit assessments around the production of fiscal reports. “Australia is the only country that provided such information: the cost of producing in-year and year-end Australian Government financial statements is estimated at $2.1 per annum,” she noted.

Innovations overseas

Highlighting the potential use of open data, Ms Moretti highlighted Canada’s implementation in 2016 of a searchable online database to provide information on departmental spending by program type. “The government plans to publish high-level annual reports that will tell a clear story of what departments plan on doing, what they achieve, and the resources used to do so, while detailed, searchable online program information... will be available for detailed searches.” Discussing the importance of reader-friendly summaries and commentaries of technical and complex fiscal reports, Ms Moretti pointed to France’s Citizen’s Budgets and citizen’s financial statements.

Recommendations

Ms Moretti said her analysis highlighted the need to use IT to allow readers to delve into the detail of fiscal reports, for accessbile summaries of reports for citizens and the provision of analysis and interpretation of complex and technical government financial information. The case studies also highlighted the need for:
  • forecasts, budgets and accounts to be aligned with tables to allow for comparability
  • governments to unsure a mix of in-year provisional reports and comprehensive audited year-end report
  • financial and non-financial performance information to be brought into a single and unified report.
The analysis was published in the OECD Journal on Budgeting.  
Comment below to have your say on this story.
If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at editorial@governmentnews.com.au.  
Sign up to the Government News newsletter.
[post_title] => Dollars and sense: governments overhaul financial reports [post_excerpt] => Australia’s efforts to improve government fiscal reporting have been highlighted in an OECD report, which recommends greater use of summaries and analyses. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => dollars-and-sense-governments-overhaul-financial-reports [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-07-20 10:55:58 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-07-20 00:55:58 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=31239 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 31036 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-07-13 10:32:08 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-07-13 00:32:08 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_31037" align="aligncenter" width="681"] Byron Shire Council is adopting new technology to manage cigarette butt littering.[/caption] Emerging technologies and partnerships with community groups are among local governments’ strategies to combat litter. Byron Shire Council always considered cigarette butt littering to be a significant issue on its famous foreshore but a shire-wide survey soon highlighted how extensive the problem really was. “Council ran little checks every weekend throughout 2016 and found that over 55 per cent of the litter in Apex Park was cigarette butts," says Kate Akkerman, the council’s waste compliance and education officer. "But then we did a shire-wide month-long study and found over 80 per cent of the litter in the whole shire is cigarette butts." The council has launched a campaign, aided by a $100,000 grant from the EPA, which will see the installation of 100 smart butt bins across the shire that have technology to monitor usage rates and extinguish butts as they’re dropped in. Under the campaign, the butts will be sent to a special recycling plant where they’ll be turned into park benches, office equipment and building materials. Ms Akkerman says Byron Shire Council’s campaign will follow the EPA’s four-pronged approach of monitoring hotspots, litter education, targeted enforcement, and improved infrastructure.  The Enviropole Butt Bins being adopted have space to carry advertisements, meaning the council can use them to further the EPA’s ‘Don’t be a tosser’ message, Ms Akkerman said. “Our goal is to work with smokers and help them dispose of their butts properly, so we’ll be making sure the bins are really visible.” As the council has recently passed a smoking ban on all beaches, it’s essential that smokers going into the foreshore parks are clear on where to correctly dispose of butts, she added. The council has been working with community and stakeholder groups on the initiative, partnering with local lifeguards, National Parks, Cape Byron Marine Park, regional company North East Waste and the local Reflections Holiday Park. “We’ll be having four or five big engagement sessions throughout the year to make people aware of this issue and getting everyone to work together for positive results.” Ongoing monthly litter surveys will be used to monitor and evaluate the campaign, while data from the new butt bins will also inform the council about whether greater education or enforcement blitzes are required, says Ms Akkerman.

Community partnerships yield results

When it comes to litter reduction efforts, partnerships between councils and the community, including local businesses, seem to get the best results, according to Val Southam, CEO of Keep Australia Beautiful, a not-for-profit environmental conservation organisation. “That often involves forming a project team, not rushing in with a perceived solution but looking at all the aspects of why littering is happening, and then working through a plan,” Ms Southam tells Government News. She says it’s obvious from entries to the tidy towns and sustainable cities awards, which are run by Keep Australia Beautiful, that there is a “multi-pronged approach to making these things work and not just one thing or a quick fix.” “One council re-engineered butt bins as they realised the openings were too small, and introduced bright visible signs so they stood out. Together with street performers to draw public attention to them and handing out rewards to smokers doing the right thing, they have had great success in reduction of cigarette butt litter,” says Ms Southam.

Blacktown’s ‘holistic approach’

Similarly, Blacktown City Council says its efforts to reduce takeaway litter on major roads have involved a “holistic approach” including community partnerships and education, with law enforcement as a last resort. [caption id="attachment_31040" align="alignright" width="134"] Stephen Bali[/caption] “We’re a fairly large local government area so we want to make sure that we get the message out as widely as we possibly can,” Blacktown Mayor Stephen Bali tells Government News. The council has worked with major fast food vendors in the area, giving them car deodorisers containing anti-littering messages to pass on to consumers. Garbage bins have been rebadged with enhanced lighting to improve visibility and new road signs draw attention to the issue.   “We hold an event each year when many local groups gather to clean up rubbish along roadways, waterways, parks and reserves... There are also four schools participating by running classroom sessions on littering and their own plans to reduce litter within the schools,” Cr Bali said. Blacktown Council staff have also been using social media to raise awareness of the issue, he said. The council has been monitoring street littering and the volume in bins before and after the campaign, which has seen an additional 2,500 litres of waste being picked up, Cr Bali said. Blacktown Council will be presenting on its campaign at Keep Australia Beautiful’s Litter Congress 2018, which takes place 1-2 August at UTS Sydney. 
Related GN coverage: Councils’ efforts to reduce waste, boost recycling
Comment below to have your say on this story.
If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at editorial@governmentnews.com.au.  
Sign up to the Government News newsletter.
[post_title] => Councils adopting 'holistic approach' on litter [post_excerpt] => Emerging technologies and partnerships with community groups are among local governments’ strategies to combat litter. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => councils-adopting-holistic-approach-on-litter [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-07-13 10:39:42 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-07-13 00:39:42 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=31036 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 31129 [post_author] => 675 [post_date] => 2018-07-10 10:26:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-07-10 00:26:31 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30134" align="aligncenter" width="653"] Queensland Government will introduce legislation to dismiss Ipswich City Council. [/caption] In a move condemned as unfair and undemocratic, Ipswich City Council will be dismissed and an administrator appointed under fast-tracked Queensland Government legislation. It follows the issuing of two show cause notices to the council over three months and a Supreme Court challenge by Ipswich councillors to the second show cause late last month after the minister was granted new powers to sack councils in the “public interest.”   The legislation to dismiss the council, which Minister for Local Government Stirling Hinchliffe says will be introduced when State Parliament returns next month, will provide “certainty” to Ipswich residents as 15 current and former councillors and officials face 75 charges. Under the legislation the two show-cause notices, the first of which Ipswich Council provided a response to, would be withdrawn. “Dismissing a democratically-elected local government is not a step to be taken lightly, but it’s necessary because of an extraordinary chain of events,” Minister Hinchliffe said. But Ipswich City Councillor Paul Tully yesterday slammed the move as “unfair and undemocratic,” saying the legislation relates to 10 innocent councillors against whom no allegations or accusations had been made. “The Supreme Court hasn’t even handed down its decision and the minister has already announced he will overturn any decision of the court favourable to the Ipswich City Council,” he said. Clr Tully told Government News that the new legislation would likely mean an end to the court proceedings as there would no longer be a legal issue to decide given the show cause noties have been withdrawn.   “The government should have allowed the Supreme Court to make a ruling,” he said. Clr Tully said that legal advice he had received said the council would be unable to challenge the legislation, which is the first time a Queensland council has been sacked by an Act of Parliament. Minister Hinchliffe said that the legislation will provide relief to the people of Ipswich, who he said frequently voice their concerns to him about the ongoing charges. “Residents and businesses are crying out for certainty – they don’t need this affair dragged out endlessly in the courts with legal challenges that won’t fix the problem,” he said. Clr Tully said that the legislation “has really taken away democracy from people of Ipswich. It’s the people of Ipswich who will be the losers.”

Action is 'regrettable': LGAQ 

The state’s Local Government Association said the dismissal was “profoundly regrettable, if understandable.” “It is regrettable because the minister has seen fit to decide the fate of the council when no one who is the subject of charges has had the benefit of their day in court to deal with the claims against them,” LGAQ president Mark Jamieson said. “His decision comes at a time when no court hearing has been completed.   “However, I understand that the circumstances at Ipswich are unique. I also note the minister will confine this action to deal with the Ipswich City Council matter only,” he said. Mr Hinchliffe said that the legislation would see an administrator appointed until March 2020, which would be supported by an expert advisory panel.
Related GN coverage: Local government suspensions: fate of Ipswich Council in the balance
Comment below to have your say on this story.
If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at editorial@governmentnews.com.au.  
Sign up to the Government News newsletter.
[post_title] => Sacked councillors say minister’s action an ‘affront to democracy’ [post_excerpt] => In a move condemned as unfair and undemocratic, Ipswich City Council will be dismissed and an administrator appointed under fast-tracked Queensland Government legislation. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => sacked-councillors-say-ministers-action-an-affront-to-democracy [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-07-10 10:29:31 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-07-10 00:29:31 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=31129 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 31052 [post_author] => 675 [post_date] => 2018-07-06 09:15:15 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-07-05 23:15:15 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30183" align="aligncenter" width="617"] City of Melbourne is considering options for a refreshed public transport plan.[/caption] Proposals for an updated public transport strategy for Melbourne, which is leading the country in population growth, have come in for sharp criticism.   A leading expert has warned that Melbourne’s public transport is under so much pressure from population growth that a major boost to the network being considered by State Government will still not meet demand. The City of Melbourne in April released a discussion paper canvassing the introduction of a Metro 2 and 3, among a raft of other major projects, as part of a 10-year future transport plan, as Government News reported. CBD rail patronage is expected to reach 200 per cent of current capacity by 2031, with the Metro 1 and 2 critical to meet forecast demand, according to the discussion paper. [caption id="attachment_30602" align="alignright" width="140"] Graham Currie[/caption] But Professor Graham Currie, director of the public transport research group at Monash University, told Government News that even with the proposals floated by government, Melbourne’s network would “not be accommodating for growth” given the rapid rise in population. Latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show Melbourne experienced its highest-ever net annual population increase in 2016-17, adding 125,000 new residents to bring its population to 4.9 million. Melbourne had the largest population growth of all capital cities, followed by Sydney (101,600) and Brisbane (48,000). Professor Currie pointed to research showing public transport service provision per capita has been declining rapidly in Melbourne since 2011-12 as the city fails to keep pace with population growth. He presented similar research to the Victorian Parliament in 2016 illustrating that while “we seem to be improving” in service delivery since 2011 “we’re going backwards” per head due to the escalation in population growth.   Professor Currie’s analysis showing public transport provision per resident is in decline from 2011 due to population growth: His findings show that car sales and ownership continue to rise, as do the costs and prevalence of urban traffic congestion, while two thirds of Melbourne is serviced by bus only, and tram services come under increasing strain. The Victorian Government needs to invest more in public transport to meet the exponential forecast in demand for public transport, he argues. “We need to grow; our systems are not big enough. Service is growing but the population is growing more, so per head we’re now in decline.” While State Governments across Australia have committed to massive public transport infrastructure projects, Professor Currie said the current scope of some of these projects is not sufficient to meet forecast demand. He argues that building more roads is counterintuitive.  “We need metros, high-quality light rail, good bus systems. We’re still building roads in a lot of cities. For successful mega city central areas we can’t use a car, it’s not possible.”
Related GN coverage: Melbourne looks for transport fix as pressure mounts 
Comment below to have your say on this story.
If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at editorial@governmentnews.com.au.  
Sign up to the Government News newsletter.
[post_title] => Melbourne’s transport goes ‘backwards’ despite update [post_excerpt] => Proposals for an updated public transport strategy for Melbourne, which is leading the country in population growth, have come in for sharp criticism.   [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => melbournes-transport-goes-backwards-despite-update [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-07-06 10:14:15 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-07-06 00:14:15 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=31052 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30867 [post_author] => 675 [post_date] => 2018-06-22 10:03:32 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-22 00:03:32 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30868" align="aligncenter" width="735"] The data skills shortage is common across state and local government professionals, a peak says.[/caption] As the NSW Government moves to address a data skills shortfall in the state’s public sector, local government professionals say they need investment in professional development. The NSW Government has announced plans to release a new set of online resources on how to find and use data after a survey of 1,000 public servants by Digital NSW found 95 per cent said they would benefit from learning more about data in their role. Dawn Rutledge, acting government chief information, said there was an overwhelming response from those surveyed that the best way to access tools to support data capability is through e-learning. More than half of the survey’s respondents, who came from departments across NSW, provided detailed responses about their data challenges and nominated finding and using data to inform decision making as among their key issues.  [caption id="attachment_30874" align="alignright" width="143"] Dawn Routledge[/caption] Ms Rutledge said the survey aimed to establish a detailed picture of what the government should “do next” and where it should focus resources to improve skills in the public service. “The respondents talked about increasing their skills in using data, increased access to data experts, building a community to share knowledge and experience, and access to tools and resources to help them use data more effectively in their work,” she said. According to Annalisa Haskell, chief executive of Local Government Professionals Australia, NSW, local government is equally in need of support.  “It’s the critical thinking skills and ability to do deduction, what the data is actually telling us, that’s the skill I see is missing,” she told Government News. It’s hard because those skills come about through practice in using data and assessing what it tells us. That’s the issue we have. We have a lot of data and local government is providing significant reports but it is more limited in what it is saying about intelligence and insight.”

NSW budget fails to upskill

Ms Haskell said NSW Government needs to help to build the generalised management and analysis skills “for the future” among local government professionals.   While the state’s budget provided funding for qualifications, there was no funding for “business management and information integration skills,” she said. “Where is the funding for the hugely important skill development we need to help staff understand areas like management information and analysis? If the State Government is really committed to helping local government understand their data it could help councils with data competence,” she said. Ms Haskell, who runs the Australasian Local Government Performance Excellence Program, a voluntary council benchmarking program, said she had discussed the need for state and local government to partner on improving data capability. “State and local government need to work together much more closely. I wish to help get state and local governments working together on data issue and am working to do this so we can learn from each other and assist better community outcomes,” she said.
Don't miss our Operational Report: Data for an in-depth look at how governments are using data for intelligence and improved service delivery. Out in next Tuesday's Government News newsletter. 
[post_title] => Data skills shortage is common across state and local government: peak [post_excerpt] => As the NSW Government moves to address a data skills shortfall in the state’s public service, local government professionals say they also need investment in professional development. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => data-skills-shortage-is-common-across-state-and-local-government-peak [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-22 14:47:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-22 04:47:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30867 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30650 [post_author] => 675 [post_date] => 2018-06-12 09:42:49 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-11 23:42:49 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30653" align="aligncenter" width="581"] Investment in regional Victoria's rail is critical, groups say.[/caption] Infrastructure executives say more investment in rail in regional Victoria is needed to help tackle Melbourne’s unprecedented urban growth. Their call comes as the Federal and Victorian governments announced that work has progressed on a four-year $1.75 billion program to upgrade all regional rail lines in Victoria.   Peter Tesdorpf, executive at Rail Futures, said that greater investment in rail infrastructure in regional areas is critical to rebalance population growth in Melbourne CBD, which is causing a “dysfunctional” public transport system. “We can't survive as a city without serious investment in rail in Melbourne and regional Victoria,” he told MAV’s Infrastructure and Asset Management Conference on Friday. There is a “complete disconnect” between land use planning and transport planning which is at the core of the problem, said Mr Tepsdorf.

A European rail network

Australia needs to invest in a more European-style public transport system in which separate rail lines connect central areas of Victoria with regional and rural areas, said Mr Tepsdorf.  “If we can open up regional Victoria through better rail services then that opens up better housing opportunities and it’s good for tourism and business investment.” John Hearsch, president at Rail Futures, said that while there has been “significant investment” in the regional rail system in Victoria over the last decade, more is needed. “Rail infrastructure is a long-term game. It has a life of 100 years or more, so even though it costs several billions to construct, it’s going to be there for a long time,” he said. Mr Hearsch says trains between the CBD and regional areas need to be segregated with new tracks in order to maximise efficiency and effectiveness. “We do have separation between city and Sunshine but that segregation will have to go considerably further in the not too distant future,” he said. However, while investments in rail are welcome, Glenelg Shire Council asset management coordinator Ricky Luke said they would have minimal benefit for regional councils like his which are heavily reliant on roads for transport. “In the long run, any improvement to trains will have some benefit to us but in the short to medium term the priority is to get more funding and improvements of our roads,” he said.

State’s rail plans make progress

Meanwhile, federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael McCormack and Victorian Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan on Friday announced that work had progresses on plans to improve regional rail networks. The program includes $80 million to duplicate track and other upgrades around Waurn Ponds Station. These works are part of the $160 million Geelong Line Upgrade, as well as a Ballarat Line Upgrade, Warrnambool, Gippsland and Bendigo Echuca line upgrade, all due by 2022. The benefits of these works will begin to flow as early as later this year, said Ms Allan.
Comment below to have your say on this story.
If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at editorial@governmentnews.com.au.  
Sign up to the Government News newsletter.
[post_title] => Regional rail key to decentralised growth [post_excerpt] => Infrastructure executives say more investment in rail in regional Victoria is needed to help tackle Melbourne’s unprecedented urban growth. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => regional-rail-key-to-decentralised-growth [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-12 10:55:55 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-12 00:55:55 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30650 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30554 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2018-06-08 08:32:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-07 22:32:00 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30556" align="aligncenter" width="635"] PPPs have the best chance of success when risk is 'properly and robustly quantified.'[/caption] As Australian governments and private enterprise partners on a multi-billion dollar infrastructure pipeline, it’s incumbent we reduce the likelihood of cost overruns, writes Paul Sullivan. Australia is going through a major construction boom, undertaking projects across every state and territory to accommodate our growing population and futureproof our cities. Melbourne and Sydney metros, the Westgate Tunnel, the Brisbane Cross River Rail, the Roe 8 project in Western Australia, school precinct developments across the eastern seaboard - the list is extensive. [caption id="attachment_30568" align="alignright" width="153"] Paul Sullivan[/caption] Such large scale, transformative projects are often delivered through public-private partnerships (PPPs), which are considered a preferred procurement method for high value, high risk (HVHR) projects because of the distribution of risk across parties. But are we quantifying risk as we should? And what are the consequences for the funding and delivery of major projects? There are cases where PPPs have gone wrong and government can be left picking the pieces at the taxpayer’s expense, particularly where running costs are involved. A major principle of the PPP risk-sharing is that contingency funds can be reduced, and if an unknown cost does eventuate, the project proponents pay only the value of that cost.  This is in contrast to conventional procurement methods - such as competitive tender, construction management and shared saving contracts - where a head contractor carries most of the risk and requires a larger contingency fund. On a level playing field, the end turnout cost of a project delivered via a partnership agreement should be less than if delivered through conventional procurement methods. PPPs, like all projects, have the best chance of success when risk is properly and robustly quantified and when ownership is taken on by the party best equipped to manage the risk. However, the question of risk is often the source of cost blow-outs, project delays and public perceptions of loss of taxpayer money going to private contractors. How can this be mitigated?

Quantify all risks

Departments of treasury and finance factor in known knowns - risks that can be quantified in terms of their likelihood and potential consequence. But they only quantify, to some extent, the known unknowns, and they do not quantify at all the unknown unknowns. A known unknown risk could be adverse ground conditions, where the potential hazard can be identified, but there is no basis upon which to estimate the likelihood of the event occurring or the impact on the costs of the project if it did. Further investigation can change a known unknown to a known known, and then enable us to quantify the risk. An unknown unknown risk could be unexpected weather patterns or finding archaeological relics when excavating a site; these are risks that cannot be reasonably identified or costed.  The private sector should not be saddled by these risks, and it’s similarly unpalatable for government to be so. This is where the perception that PPPs “always blow their budgets” comes from.   For unknown unknowns, an evaluation of likelihood and consequence should be attempted, utilising benchmarking from similar works on previous projects, and the knowledge of highly experienced people. In the event of the contingent funds not being used, the reserve is retained by the financier or project proponents and does not convert to profit.  If all project proponents sought to quantify risk more fully, then this could be shared and costed more appropriately across parties in HVHR projects. A lenders technical advisory role consultant can provide an “additional set of eyes” to give confidence in the project budget.  

Allocate risk to most appropriate

Best practice risk management allocates risks to the party best able to manage it, and therefore at the least cost to the project.  But in practice, the risk often gets pushed down to the contractor and sub-contractors, who in turn include a higher contingency sum in their contracts. One reason why small contractors go out of business so often is that they’re not equipped to understand or deal with the risk when things turn pear shaped. Project proponents must ensure they are engaging suitably qualified contractors, with the wherewithal to handle the works being let, and ensure that the various risks are “owned” by the party most equipped to deal with that risk.

Thorough analysis

Too many project proponents don’t have a full enough understanding of probabilistic risk analysis and its application. While a complex process, it is worth sourcing appropriate experts to bring a fuller understanding of the risks and opportunities, throughout the life of the project. Since PPPs are a partnership between government and private enterprise, it’s up to project proponents to engage qualified specialists to facilitate risk and opportunity workshops. Professional risk workshops are the best way to counter inherent optimism bias which, if left unchecked, can lead to an overestimation of benefits. In large infrastructure projects, this can manifest as overly optimistic cost estimating, under-estimated risk consideration and a higher contingency sum. The $554 million Sydney Cross Harbour Tunnel provides an interesting example where revenue projections exceeded actual collections. This was most likely the result of optimism bias, where traffic engineers anticipated higher traffic levels, combined with government’s re-opening of certain road closures to appease public demand and causing "leakage" of traffic numbers. The failure was more about toll revenue being lower than anticipated, rather than a blow out in construction cost, but the result was the same. If all HVHR project proponents undertook probabilistic risk analysis, participated in Rrisk workshops to a greater degree, and carried the process through to project completion, the risk of large overruns would be diminished. The majority of PPPs have had good outcomes, such as the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, Melbourne City Link, AAMI Stadium and Ravenhall Prison. In these instances, it’s likely that the private proponents were some of the most experienced in the country and carried out risk analysis in the best and fullest manner, using suitably experienced and qualified contractors. As Australian governments and private enterprise partner to deliver a multi-billion dollar infrastructure project pipeline, it’s incumbent on all parties to ensure a procurement method that will keep risk pricing, or contingency funding, to a minimum and reduce the likelihood of cost overruns. PPPs are best suited to HVHR projects which are of such a magnitude that the only way to deliver them is with partnership funding. For this model to work effectively, we need to focus on appropriately defining, quantifying, allocating and costing risk.
Paul Sullivan is state director at WT Partnership, a project and cost management advisory.
Comment below to have your say on this post.
If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at editorial@governmentnews.com.au.  
Sign up to the Government News newsletter.
[post_title] => Are we getting risk wrong in public-private partnerships? [post_excerpt] => As Australian governments and private enterprise partners on a multi-billion dollar infrastructure pipeline, it’s incumbent we reduce the likelihood of cost overruns, writes Paul Sullivan. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => are-we-getting-risk-wrong-in-public-private-partnerships [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-08 09:12:56 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-07 23:12:56 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30554 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 3 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30594 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2018-06-05 10:32:10 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-05 00:32:10 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30596" align="aligncenter" width="636"] Many large cities face the twin challenges of ageing infrastructure and increased volumes of people.[/caption] Cities are expanding upwards and downwards, as well as outwards. With urban density also increasing, moving people efficiently around the city, often using ageing infrastructure, is quite a challenge, write Andrea Connor and Donald McNeill. Cities worldwide face the problems and possibilities of “volume”: the stacking and moving of people and things within booming central business districts. We see this especially around mass public transport hubs. As cities grow, they also become more vertical. They are expanding underground through rail corridors and above ground into the tall buildings that shape city skylines. Cities are deep as well as wide. The urban geographer Stephen Graham describes cities as both “vertically stacked” and “vertically sprawled”, laced together by vertical and horizontal transport systems. People flow in large cities is not only about how people move horizontally on rail and road networks into and out of city centres. It also includes vertical transport systems. These are the elevators, escalators and moving sidewalks that commuters use every day to get from the underground to the surface street level. Major transport hubs are where many vertical and horizontal transport systems converge. It’s here that people flows are most dense. But many large cities face the twin challenges of ageing infrastructure and increased volumes of people flowing through transport hubs. Problems of congestion, overcrowding, delays and even lockouts are becoming more common. Governments are increasingly looking for ways to squeeze more capacity out of existing infrastructure networks.

Can we increase capacity by changing behaviour?

For the last three years, Transport for London (TfL) has been running standing-only escalator trials. The aim is to see if changing commuter behaviour might increase “throughput” of people and reduce delays. London has some of the deepest underground stations in the world. This means the Tube system is heavily reliant on vertical transport such as escalators. But a long-standing convention means people only stand on the right side and allow others to walk up on the left. In a trial at Holborn Station, one of London’s deepest at 23 metres, commuters were asked to stand on both sides during morning rush hour. The results of the trials showed that changing commuter behaviour could improve throughput by increasing capacity by as much as 30% at peak times. But this works only in Tube stations with very tall escalators. At stations with escalators less than 18 metres high, like Canary Wharf, the trials found the opposite – standing would only increase congestion across the network. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640"] By standing only, 30% more people could fit on an escalator in the trial at Holborn Station.[/caption] The difference is down to human behaviour. People are simply less willing to walk up very tall escalators. This means a standing-only policy across the network won’t improve people flow uniformly and could even make congestion worse.

Is people movement data a solution?

With the introduction of ticketless transport cards it’s now possible to gather more data about people flow through busy transport hubs as we tap on and off. Tracking commuters’ in-station journeys through their Wi-Fi enabled devices, such as smart phones, can also offer a detailed picture of movement between platforms, congestion and delays. Transport for London has already conducted its first Wi-Fi tracking trial in the London Underground. Issues of privacy loom large in harvesting mobile data from individual devices. Still, there’s enormous potential to use this data to resolve issues of overcrowding and inform commuters about delays and congestion en route. Governments are also increasingly turning to consultancy firms that specialise in simulation modelling of people flow. That’s everything from check-in queues and processing at terminals, to route tracking and passenger flow on escalators. Using data analytics, people movement specialists identify movement patterns, count footfall and analyse commuter behaviour. In existing infrastructure, they look to achieve “efficiencies” through changes to scheduling and routing, and assessing the directional flow of commuters. Construction and engineering companies are also beginning to employ people movement specialists during the design phase of large infrastructure projects. Beijing’s Daxing airport, due for completion in 2020, will be the largest transport hub in China. It’s also the first major infrastructure project to use crowd simulation and analysis software during the design process to test anticipated volume against capacity. The advice of people movement specialists can have significant impacts on physical infrastructure. This involves aspects such as the width of platforms, number and placement of gates, and the layout and positioning of vertical transport, such as escalators.

Movement analytics is becoming big business

People movement analytics is becoming big business, especially where financialisation of public assets is increasing. This means infrastructure is being developed through complex public-private partnership models. As a result, transport hubs are now also commercial spaces for retail, leisure and business activities. Commuters are no longer only in transit when they make their way through these spaces. They are potential consumers as they move through the retail concourse in many of these developments. In an era of “digital disruption”, which is particularly affecting the retail sector, information about commuter mobility has potential commercial value. The application of data analytics to people flow and its use by the people movement industry to achieve “efficiencies” needs careful scrutiny to ensure benefits beyond commercial gain. The ConversationAt the same time, mobility data may well help our increasingly vertical cities to keep flowing up, down and across.
Andrea Connor is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University and Donald McNeill is a professor of urban and cultural geography at Western Sydney University.This article was originally published on The Conversation
[post_title] => Growing cities face challenges of keeping the masses moving  [post_excerpt] => Cities are expanding upwards and downwards, as well as outwards. With urban density also increasing, moving people efficiently around the city, often using ageing infrastructure, is quite a challenge, write Andrea Connor and Donald McNeill. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => growing-cities-face-challenges-of-keeping-the-masses-moving [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-05 11:20:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-05 01:20:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30594 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30515 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-06-01 09:35:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-31 23:35:00 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30519" align="aligncenter" width="570"] The project drew together government agencies and various community groups.[/caption] A partnership between state and local governments, water utilities, land management and community groups has enabled the most efficient delivery of a large urban waterway project, officials say. Less than a decade ago, Bannister Creek in Perth was a “no-go” area for locals because of significant antisocial behaviour in and around the area. Many houses along the creek screened and fenced it off from view. But today the site is a favourite walk for seniors living in the local aged care facility and among residents walking or excising in the area’s open public space. Houses have been installing see-through screens and back-garden patios to take in the view. Bannister Creek is among the areas that have been rejuvenated in Perth’s Urban Waterways Renewal project - an $8.5 million initiative involving all three levers of government and numerous state agencies and community groups. The project, which successfully engaged 1,600 community volunteers,  retrofitted 11 sections of the urban draining systems within the Canning River catchments in the Perth metropolitan area. Since it began in 2007 the project has restored 3.3 kilometres of traditional urban drainage into living streams, installed more than 424,000 plants, and removed 18 hectares of weeds and 4,600 cubic metres of sediment and rubbish.    But in addition to the water and environmental benefits the project has delivered social, recreational and cultural benefits, including improved public amenity. In a paper presented at a recent international conference on water sensitive urban design, three officials involved in the initiative say it has provided a “blueprint” for future project delivery. “The project has inspired new ways of doing things and is a model that other organisations and governments can follow,” according to Agni Bhandari from the state’s Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, Brett Kuhlmann from South Eastern Regional Centre for Urban Landcare and Scott Davie from the Water Corporation. “A long-term benefit is in the way people are viewing and caring for these sites and seeing what is possible for urban waterways and draining,” they say.

Various stakeholders involved

The project was initiated after the Swan Canning River system was identified as a “hot spot” in 2006 because of its high levels of nitrogen and phosphorous. A funding injection of $4 million from the Commonwealth was matched by the state and three local governments (the cities of Gosnells, Armadale and Canning). In addition to local government, the project involved SERCUL, the water and biodiversity departments and the Water Corporation. “The project drew together local landcare groups, state and local government agencies and, importantly, a volunteer army. More than 1,600 volunteers took part in the project during its lifespan, contributing 6,900 hours of work worth around $200,000,” the officials say. The project had four main aims: healthy water, healthy habitats, educated communities and recreation and wellbeing.

Navigating different agendas

The officials note that as water resources and environmental assets cross departmental boundaries there were many stakeholders involved, each with different interests and often conflicting directives, which could delay progress.
“The project team gathered each of the stakeholders together to collectively identify the opportunities, constraints and to overcome the barriers. The project adopted a multidisciplinary approach to involve internal and external stakeholders to enable a common vision.”
The team also organised five workshops and 17 site tours and successfully engaged eight community groups and 10 schools in the project.

Environmental, social benefits    

The project incorporated a monitoring and evaluation program, which shows the measures taken have contributed to improved water quality, reduced nutrient load, prevention of fish kills and reduced flood risk. It also contributed to reduced heat island effects and improved urban amenity. The officials cite a study that found the project also contributed to a boost in house values in the neighbourhoods around the retrofitted systems. At Bannister Creek, the median home within 200 meters of the restoration site increased in value by $17,000 to $26,000. The project also increased stakeholders’ understanding and knowledge of local hydrology and water technologies, they say.  

‘Leading example’ of project delivery

The officials conclude that the project is a “leading example” of involving partnerships between government agencies, landcare, community groups, schools and volunteers “to achieve outstanding on-ground water management and environmental outcomes.” Given that irregular and insufficient funding is often a key issue in the planning and management of major projects, the officials recommend that relevant agencies and community stakeholders “provide shared ongoing commitments and contribution”. “Ongoing contribution of even a small amount of in-kind support or resources from various agencies and stakeholders can become a significant contribution to expand such projects,” they say.
Comment below to have your say on this story.
If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at editorial@governmentnews.com.au.  
Sign up to the Government News newsletter.
[post_title] => New 'blueprint' for major project delivery [post_excerpt] => A partnership between state and local governments, water utilities, land management and community groups has enabled the most efficient delivery of a large urban waterway project, officials say. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => new-blueprint-for-major-project-delivery [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-01 10:10:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-01 00:10:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30515 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30479 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2018-05-29 08:15:40 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-28 22:15:40 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30482" align="aligncenter" width="600"] APIs make digital government work but are suffering an 'identity crisis'. [/caption] No longer simply the tools used by developers for internal systems, APIs can push digital government programs to new levels, writes Dean Lacheca. Application programming interfaces (APIs) are the building blocks of digital transformation – they make digital society and digital government work. They connect people, businesses and things. They enable new digital products and business models for services, and create new business channels. [caption id="attachment_30481" align="alignright" width="117"] Dean Lacheca[/caption] Despite the significant role they play in government, APIs are suffering an identity crisis in the eyes of executives. Overuse of a misunderstood technical reference is undermining the critical and transformational impact they can have on government organisations. Unfortunately, government IT departments tend to revert to treating APIs as a type of technology, rather than a business product. Yet APIs are no longer simply the tools used by developers for internal systems and integration. They’re a strategic government service that can push open and digital government programs to new levels. New revenue, service innovation and optimisation opportunities can be lost if APIs aren’t properly articulated in business terms.

Communicate outcomes, not technology

Many government organisations are largely ignoring APIs, not positioning them within their business or technology strategies. If you’re a government CIO, it’s your role to turn executives’ perceptions around to enable future innovation and collaboration across your organisation and the community. Focus on the value APIs represent and the outcomes they’ll deliver, rather than technology. Open government transparency programs are supported by APIs. They also support innovation, from government services to empowering ecosystem partners, through to community-led innovation distributed across a range of third parties. APIs are used to improve integration into third-party platforms, such as Google Maps. They improve the government's agility to support more rapid service model changes and they open opportunities for new revenue sources. They also support government efforts to improve operational efficiencies and improve cross-government data and service usage. By building a comprehensive, multi-faceted, value-driven strategy around these business outcomes and benefits, the real impact of the API programs will be recognised. This outcome focused approach will allow government organisations to reach beyond their organisations and governments to engage citizens, businesses and ecosystem partners through new channels.

Focus strategy on citizen, government or value

APIs are building blocks and enablers of digital government that require specific architectural and management considerations. However, these technical considerations and investments won’t resonate with government executives in isolation. APIs — and the investment required to support them — must be positioned as an enabler of outcomes, not an outcome in itself. You won’t succeed if strategies or business cases for investment in APIs or ecosystem platforms are perceived as abstract technology investments. An architectural decision to adopt a modern application architecture represents a significant investment in technology, skills development and time. This investment must represent measurable value beyond IT. The value of the API platform must be articulated in terms of tangible value to the organisation or the community. A business case in the taxation domain, for example, wouldn’t focus on the benefits of the technology. It would be built around coordinating efforts and orchestrating data from across the public and private sectors to simplify the user experience and help increase compliance and collection rates. The value must be outcome-based and aligned with the strategies, values and/or action plans of the organisation. These can be simple to explain, like the potential to generate revenue by monetising API products. They could be linked to multi-channel service delivery strategies or the engagement of ecosystem partners to drive innovation. Rather than the government developing additional channels for services, for example, it can choose to be an ecosystem partner and let other people build the apps or dashboards, saving it money while improving citizen service delivery. Examples of these types of APIs exist within the public transport domain in Australia. Most states offer some level of APIs for their public transport services, such as Queensland's TransLink APIs, Transport NSW and Public Transport Victoria. Some uses include real-time vehicle positioning for trains, buses, ferries and light rail vehicles, while others offer real-time arrival times at specific stops. The information is used by developers to offer services like trip planners through mobile apps. Alternatively, the APIs could fall into the operational efficiency category, putting an API in front of an existing legacy application to allow service innovation. Later, you may decide to replace the existing legacy application for something less costly without impacting the already modernised services. The value that the API represents must be expressed in terminology understood by non-technical government executives. If you’re building strategies or business cases for this investment, you must be able to articulate how benefits such as increased agility, improved scalability, operational efficiency or support for a continuous multi-channel experience represent value to the organisation.
Dean Lacheca is a research director at Gartner focused on supporting public sector CIOs on the transition to digital government.
Comment below to have your say on this story.
If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at editorial@governmentnews.com.au.  
Sign up to the Government News newsletter.
[post_title] => ‘Building blocks’ of digital transformation ignored [post_excerpt] => No longer simply the tools used by developers for internal systems, APIs can push digital government programs to new levels, writes Dean Lacheca. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => building-blocks-of-digital-transformation-ignored [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-29 09:13:56 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-28 23:13:56 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30479 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30413 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-05-25 08:05:02 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-24 22:05:02 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30415" align="aligncenter" width="609"] NSW's policy tackles barriers to government supply chains for Aboriginal businesses, experts say.[/caption] Experts have praised the Berejiklian Government’s new indigenous procurement policy but caution effective implementation and broader efforts to nurture businesses are crucial. Three per cent of the NSW Government’s goods and services contracts will be offered to Aboriginal owned businesses under the state’s new Aboriginal Procurement Policy, which the government says will support 1,000 Aboriginal jobs a year over three years. Given it spends $20 billion each year on goods and services contracts, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the State Government was in a unique position to offer practical support for the creation of Aboriginal employment. “These jobs could include electrical services, catering, recruitment and landscaping,” she said while launching the policy last week. Under the changes, government agencies will be able to procure goods and services up to $250,000 directly from Aboriginal businesses, an increase on the current limit of $150,000. The policy will also see procurement activities over $10 million required to “consider” employment opportunities for Aboriginal people and engagement of Aboriginal businesses. For the first time, the government says it will track the number of jobs supported through the policy in addition to the number of contracts awarded.         

Substantial policy: expert

[caption id="attachment_30449" align="alignright" width="149"] Michelle Evans[/caption] Michelle Evans, an academic and partnership broker who leads research on indigenous business at the Asia Pacific Social Impact Leadership Centre, welcomed the policy, saying it appeared to tackle the barriers to government supply chains facing Aboriginal businesses. “It follows the Federal Government’s great work in the indigenous procurement policy space, which has seen so many businesses come into the supplier chain of the government at the federal level,” she told Government News. Dr Evans said that efforts to boost Aboriginal businesses would lead to job creation:
“We know that Aboriginal businesses are 30 per cent more likely to employ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
However, she said there were many different types of Aboriginal businesses and not all would benefit from a procurement policy, which means governments need to think of other ways of providing support. “A lot of Aboriginal businesses, particularly the business-to-customer enterprises, are delivering cultural products and services, and they are doing it really tough. We can’t forget about these other types of businesses,” she said.

Implementation and monitoring is key

Jo Barraket, director of the Centre for Social Impact at Swinburne University, praised the policy’s inclusion of key targets. [caption id="attachment_30439" align="alignright" width="150"] Jo Barraket[/caption] “The research we’ve done in the past on social procurement suggests the only context in which there’s any semblance of success is where there’s concrete goals,” she told Government News. Recent work had highlighted a concerning lack of follow-up monitoring or evaluation of the outcomes of social procurement practices internationally, Professor Barraket said. “It’s terrific to have governments in Australia, NSW now being one of them, saying they’re going to commit to doing that work.” Professor Barraket said that while good policy is welcome, effective implementation is critical.
“What we know about procurement is that having the policy isn’t enough. Policy commitments like these require implementation and that often involves changes to systems and culture within government agencies. That’s what is needed; its policy plus implementation.”
Commenting on indigenous procurement policies more broadly, Professor Barraket cautioned governments to be aware of potential unintended consequences. “It’s reminiscent of some predatory practices that emerged when mining licences regulations changed about a decade ago to commit mining companies to stronger local economic development. We’re starting to hear anecdotal information about large firms building effectively shell companies in Aboriginal communities and embedding those in their supply chains in order to meet targets,” she said. Australia was fortunate to have Supply Nation as an intermediary given it undertakes a lot of the certification and due diligence work, Professor Barraket added.  "That said, there’s still scope for some predatory practices to emerge.”
Related GN coverage: Social enterprises an untapped partner for councils
Comment below to have your say on this story.
If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at editorial@governmentnews.com.au.  
Sign up to the Government News newsletter.
[post_title] => NSW Government boosts Aboriginal procurement [post_excerpt] => Experts have praised the Berejiklian Government’s new indigenous procurement policy but caution effective implementation and broader efforts to nurture businesses are crucial. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => nsw-government-boosts-aboriginal-procurement [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-25 10:02:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-25 00:02:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30413 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30326 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-05-18 10:28:56 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-18 00:28:56 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30333" align="aligncenter" width="623"] The Sydney demonstration showed how design and technology changed the public's use of a street.[/caption] A collaboration of planners, architects and technology developers says that greener, smarter streets lead to more inclusive cities. A new position statement demonstrating the design concepts and technology that create "future public spaces" has been produced to help governments transform streets into usable public amenities. The Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, the Smart Cities Council Australia and New Zealand and the Internet of Things Alliance Australia has released the Future Street position statement advocating for the design and building of streets to be “greener, more complete and smarter.” It also calls for government policy and regulation to facilitate the design and management of streets in line with this approach. The position statement comes after the groups staged a four-day pop-up demonstration at Sydney’s Circular Quay last year which demonstrated how technology and design changed people's use of a street. In most CBDs streets represent 30 per cent of land across a city and more than half of that space is given away to move cars and buses, the groups argue. Current approaches that provide for minimal trees and vegetation mean streets can be 10 degrees hotter while air quality is often poor. “Streets are our most fundamental shared public spaces, but they are also one of the most contested and overlooked,” the position statement says. The design principles advocate for streets that provide equitable access for pedestrians, cyclists, car drivers, public transport users and operators. “It also provides opportunities for life to occur, be that community gatherings, commerce, public art, lighting or landscape.”

Watch a summary of the smarter street installation: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_e7HVXhwKk&t=3s Tim Arnold, CEO of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, said the new position statement aimed to ensure the messages from the successful street demonstration were not forgotten.  “Alfred Street was reinvigorated. It changed the way that people used the street and provided them with education on technologies of the future.” Adam Beck, head of Smart Cities Council Australia and New Zealand said the demonstration showed “designing streets that are greener, more complete and smarter had a tremendous response from the tens of thousands of people who visited and walked through the installation.” Frank Zeichner, CEO of the IoT Alliance Australia said the initiative explored “playful and interactive ways technology can engage citizens, activate places and inform city policy and urban planning.” Mr Zeichner said industry and governments should be “doing more to discover better ways to make our streets and cities - places to be.” Earlier this month the installation was recognised by World Architecture News when it named the design partner, Place Design Group, as winner of the 2018 Urban Challenge.
Related GN coverage: Global smart cities body targets Australia 
Comment below to have your say on this story.
If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at editorial@governmentnews.com.au.  
Sign up to the Government News newsletter.
[post_title] => Embrace streets as ‘important public spaces’, governments told [post_excerpt] => A collaboration of planners, architects and technology developers says that greener, smarter streets lead to more inclusive cities. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => embrace-streets-as-important-public-spaces-governments-told [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-18 10:44:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-18 00:44:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30326 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30278 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-05-15 08:55:01 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-14 22:55:01 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30281" align="aligncenter" width="621"] Community planting events are among Subiaco's water sustainability measures.[/caption] Extensive community education programs and the use of smart technologies are among the tools being used by “water wise” councils in Western Australia. In leafy Subiaco, an inner western suburb of Perth, residents have reduced their drinking water use by a quarter since 2015 on foot of community education programs being delivered by the city. These have included community planting events, water wise gardening workshops, demonstration gardens and assistance programs for verge gardens. It’s part of the City of Subiaco’s broader water sustainability program, which was recently recognised as a leader in Western Australia Government’s annual Waterwise Council Program. Subiaco's initiatives have included the trial of ultrasonic solar powered algae control technology in the Subiaco Common Irrigation Lake, which improves water quality by using sound waves to monitor and regulate algae. Another recent initiative was a study of the city’s drainage system using hydraulic modelling of draining patterns, which will inform future flood prevention and water wuality improvement projects. “We’ve made a commitment to create a water-sensitive community,” says Mayor Penny Taylor. “I congratulate city staff for their hard work in carrying out programs and operations that support residents, local businesses and developers to act and work sustainably in Subiaco.”

Improved leak detection

Similarly, technology is a strong feature of the water management measures being rolled out by the City of Kwinana, another council that has been recognised in the Waterwise scheme, a joint initiative of the state's water corporation and department of water.  Sarah McCabe, City of Kwinana sustainability officer, said that water data loggers and real-time monitoring systems have been installed at 10 council buildings, which have been used to detect leaks. The council estimates this has saved nine million litres of water while upgrades to toilets and urinals have saved an estimated 900,000 litres each year. Centralised irrigation technology has also led to improvements in how the city waters its parks and gardens. “That’s helped with more responsible irrigation that can respond to water conditions, and the use of the park, which really helps bring down the water consumption,” Ms McCabe told Government News. Like Subiaco, the City of Kwinana has been rolling out public awareness initiatives, such as its “adopt-a-verge” program which encourages residents to plant local native plants on their verge. A subsidised local native seedling sale, free mulch and verge gardening tips and workshops are all features of the program. Ms McCabe says the council is in the middle of reviewing its five-year sustainable water management plan, but she expects future initiatives will focus on major water consuming facilities and likely continue to include the use of technology.
Related GN coverage: Size no obstacle to innovation for water bodies, says report
[post_title] => Local governments tackle water waste [post_excerpt] => Extensive community education programs and the use of smart technologies are among the tools being used by “water wise” councils in Western Australia. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => local-governments-tackle-water-waste [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-15 11:25:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-15 01:25:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30278 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30243 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-05-11 09:08:28 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-10 23:08:28 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30245" align="aligncenter" width="650"] More than 80% of the budget's transport spending is on roads, analyst says.[/caption] The Commonwealth should link its budget's infrastructure investment to its innovation agenda to ensure new technologies are used to reduce construction and maintenance costs, analysts say. Given the budget’s injection of $24.5 billion for major roads and rail infrastructure, the private sector and universities should work closely with federal and state governments to ensure the skilled workforce required to deliver the landmark projects can be trained locally. That’s according to Dr Behzad Fatahi, an associate professor of civil engineering at The University of Technology Sydney who said the new funding should be tied to the government’s innovation agenda. [caption id="attachment_30249" align="alignright" width="110"] Behzad Fatahi[/caption] “Federal government should try to link the national innovation and science agenda with these new infrastructure investments to ensure smart ideas and new technologies will be proposed and used to reduce the construction and maintenance cost of transport infrastructure, to ensure projects are viable,” Dr Fatahi said. Smarter, more efficient ways of constructing and maintaining large-scale infrastructure is needed given maintenance cost of transport infrastructure has been increasing, he said. “For example, over the past five years, the expenditure for local road maintenance has increased by $97 million.” At the same time disruption to infrastructure systems can cause tremendous challenges for society, such as a significant reduction in the freight capacity of roads and railway lines and delayed commuter access to ports, airports, industrial areas and business precincts, he said. “Therefore, Australian industries together with research organisations should focus their research and development efforts on developing efficient construction technologies to reduce future maintenance cost of transport infrastructure, so the return on investment on the upcoming projects could enhance," Dr Fatahi said.

Spend on roads

While the budget funding for rail projects is welcome, it does not go nearly far enough to meet the challenges facing the country, especially the cities where most Australians live, according to Dr Ian Woodcock from the Centre for Urban Research at RMIT University. He said: 
"Roads represent about 84 per cent of the transport project funding, far more should be going to rail where we are playing catch up for an advanced economy.”
A funding program for comprehensive, integrated transport planning is needed more than support for project-based business cases for politically-driven road projects, he said. "The ‘up to $5 billion’ for airport rail for Victoria comes with strings attached that may re-ignite the political differences that have stalled this link for several decades," Dr Ian Woodcock said. 

Key projects

Budget papers show that the key rail infrastructure projects among the $24.5 billion of new funding include:
  • up to $5 billion for construction of a rail link to the Melbourne Airport
  • $1.1 billion towards further components of Perth's METRONET program
  • $400 million to duplicate a section of the Port Botany Rail Line
  • $390 million for the upgrade of the Beerburrum to Nambour Line on the Sunshine Coast
  • $300 million for the Brisbane Metro project
  • $220 million for the electrification of the Gawler Line in northern Adelaide.
The major urban and regional road projects include:
  • $1 billion for the M1 Motorway corridor
  • $3.3 billion for the Bruce Highway in Queensland
  • $1.4 billion for Adelaide's North–South Corridor
  • $971 million to build the Coffs Harbour Bypass on the Pacific Highway in NSW
  • $1.75 billion for the new North East Link in Melbourne
  • $560 million to deliver Stages 2 and 3 of the Bunbury Outer Ring Road in WA
  • $280 million for regional road works in the NT
  • $461 million to build a new Bridgewater Bridge in Hobart.
Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael McCormack said that strong governance arrangements linked to funding commitments would ensure value for money on the projects while the Commonwealth would “continue to press the states and territories to provide their fair share of funding”. “The government also remains committed to exploring every opportunity for private sector involvement to help reduce the cost on hard-working Australians,” he said.

Industry reaction 

Denita Wawn, CEO of Master Builders Australia, welcomed the budget's infrastructure spend. "The additional $24 billion investment in infrastructure across the country will boost the productivity and liveability of our cities,” she said The Green Building Council of Australia said the Federal Government must continue to make "future-focused infrastructure investments" to ensure the livability of towns, cities and communities remain livable. Jonathan Cartledge, the council's head of public affairs, said the attention on urban congestion hot spots backed by $1 billion in funding is welcome and should be part of a broader strategy to support better urban design outcomes.
Related GN budget coverage:
[post_title] => Budget: transport infrastructure spend needs 'smart ideas' [post_excerpt] => The Commonwealth should link its budget's infrastructure investment to its innovation agenda to ensure new technologies are used to reduce construction and maintenance costs, analysts say. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => budget-transport-infrastructure-spend-needs-smart-ideas [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-11 10:50:41 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-11 00:50:41 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30243 [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] => 31239 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-07-20 10:38:54 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-07-20 00:38:54 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_20368" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Governments have to produce increasingly sophisticated fiscal reports while making them user-friendly.[/caption] Australia’s efforts to improve government fiscal reporting have been highlighted in an OECD report, which recommends greater use of summaries and analyses. In an era of commitment to transparency and accountability, where everyone from economists and investors to citizens and lobby groups are demanding greater access to probe the state’s finances, governments are under pressure to deliver increasingly sophisticated fiscal reporting. But this increasing sophistication has often come at the expense of clarity and governments internationally have sought to “rationalise” fiscal reporting to make it more legible for users.   Australia has made some notable progress in the area, according to a new report by the OECD’s budgeting and public expenditure division. The paper, which looked at Australia, Canada, France and the UK, found the nations’ collective efforts were “a testimony to governments’ commitment to fiscal transparency and accountability.” Nonetheless, it found there were still a number of mainly “technical” issues with government fiscal reports, such as using different accounting bases or classifications which made them “difficult to navigate”. “In addition, information provided in fiscal reports is sometimes overly technical, hence difficult to understand and make use of for non-technical readers,” said the paper’s author Delphine Moretti, a senior policy analyst who leads the division’s work on finance management and reporting.

Australian initiatives 

In all countries studied there has been a push for “faster closure” of year-end financial reports, Ms Moretti found, and “good results” were found in Australia where audited financial statements are published within three and five months after the end of the financial year for the whole of the Australian Government.   Australia was also performing well in the provision of data underpinning charts and tables online which allows for secondary analysis or use. While Australia, France and the UK publish excel sheets or CSV files containing budget data in addition to their year-end financial reports, the “comprehensiveness and regularity of the data publication varies depending on countries.” Australia publishes “a relatively large set of data compared to other countries both monthly and at year-end,” Ms Moretti found. Elsewhere, with parliaments internationally calling for more performance information, which is crucial to scrutiny and government accountability, Ms Moretti points to Australia and Canada’s new performance frameworks:
“Under these new frameworks departments are expected to define performance objectives in annual ‘plans’ and report their results in their annual financial reports. For example, under the Australian Government’s new performance framework, reporting entities (portfolio departments and agencies) have been required to include summary performance information in documents presented to parliament to inform the budget discussion...”
Australia is also cited for its leading work in providing cost-benefit assessments around the production of fiscal reports. “Australia is the only country that provided such information: the cost of producing in-year and year-end Australian Government financial statements is estimated at $2.1 per annum,” she noted.

Innovations overseas

Highlighting the potential use of open data, Ms Moretti highlighted Canada’s implementation in 2016 of a searchable online database to provide information on departmental spending by program type. “The government plans to publish high-level annual reports that will tell a clear story of what departments plan on doing, what they achieve, and the resources used to do so, while detailed, searchable online program information... will be available for detailed searches.” Discussing the importance of reader-friendly summaries and commentaries of technical and complex fiscal reports, Ms Moretti pointed to France’s Citizen’s Budgets and citizen’s financial statements.

Recommendations

Ms Moretti said her analysis highlighted the need to use IT to allow readers to delve into the detail of fiscal reports, for accessbile summaries of reports for citizens and the provision of analysis and interpretation of complex and technical government financial information. The case studies also highlighted the need for:
  • forecasts, budgets and accounts to be aligned with tables to allow for comparability
  • governments to unsure a mix of in-year provisional reports and comprehensive audited year-end report
  • financial and non-financial performance information to be brought into a single and unified report.
The analysis was published in the OECD Journal on Budgeting.  
Comment below to have your say on this story.
If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at editorial@governmentnews.com.au.  
Sign up to the Government News newsletter.
[post_title] => Dollars and sense: governments overhaul financial reports [post_excerpt] => Australia’s efforts to improve government fiscal reporting have been highlighted in an OECD report, which recommends greater use of summaries and analyses. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => dollars-and-sense-governments-overhaul-financial-reports [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-07-20 10:55:58 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-07-20 00:55:58 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=31239 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [comment_count] => 0 [current_comment] => -1 [found_posts] => 368 [max_num_pages] => 27 [max_num_comment_pages] => 0 [is_single] => [is_preview] => [is_page] => [is_archive] => 1 [is_date] => [is_year] => [is_month] => [is_day] => [is_time] => [is_author] => [is_category] => [is_tag] => 1 [is_tax] => [is_search] => [is_feed] => [is_comment_feed] => [is_trackback] => [is_home] => [is_404] => [is_embed] => [is_paged] => [is_admin] => [is_attachment] => [is_singular] => [is_robots] => [is_posts_page] => [is_post_type_archive] => [query_vars_hash:WP_Query:private] => f0e8513ad618c389c42b0f3bd941c2e0 [query_vars_changed:WP_Query:private] => 1 [thumbnails_cached] => [stopwords:WP_Query:private] => [compat_fields:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => query_vars_hash [1] => query_vars_changed ) [compat_methods:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => init_query_flags [1] => parse_tax_query ) )

news-3