Corporate support services

The department established the Shared Services Centre in partnership with the Department of Education and Training as a joint operation to provide shared corporate services for both departments. The two partner departments continue to provide ongoing funding and staffing support to enable the operations of the SSC. The SSC is accountable to the two departments and overseen by a governance board.

The SSC is based on a shared services model that allows both departments to share corporate functions such as corporate IT, human resources, finance support, property management, design and website development, and library and mailroom services. The collaboration is designed to reduce costs and increase efficiencies through the consolidation and standardisation of processes. The SSC is building on the work undertaken by the former Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations to improve and maximise the efficiencies of corporate functions.

The SSC provides additional services to other departments and agencies on a cost-recovery basis, and is committed to a culture of continuous service improvement, providing analysis and identifying solutions to best meet customer needs.

As at 30 June 2015, the Department of Employment had 309 employees working within the Shared Services Centre.

Shared Services Centre governance

The SSC’s Chief Executive Officer, Delaine Wilson, was appointed in October 2014. Ms Wilson is an experienced manager, specialising in the leadership of operational areas including shared service initiatives for large organisations.

In 2014–15, the SSC developed a new vision statement—Leaders in exceptional and innovative shared services solutions—and released a suite of strategic documents that were endorsed by the board in June 2015:

  • SSC Strategic Plan 2015–2017—key strategies and priorities that the SSC will work on to deliver its vision
  • Marketing and Growth Strategy—the SSC’s approach to sales and marketing
  • IT Strategy—how the SSC will use technology to realise opportunities in its business and support the delivery of its vision.

The board oversees the strategic direction and priorities for the SSC. The board supports the extension of services by the SSC more broadly to the benefit of the APS as a whole. The members of the board at 30 June 2015 were:

  • Renée Leon PSM, Secretary of the Department of Employment, chair
  • Lisa Paul AO PSM, Secretary of the Department of Education and Training
  • Delaine Wilson, Chief Executive Officer of the SSC, ex-officio member
  • John Lloyd PSM, Australian Public Service Commission representative
  • Stein Helgeby, Department of Finance representative
  • Natalie James, Fair Work Ombudsman, client agency representative
  • Julian Barrington-Smith, independent member.

The board met eight times during the year.

Priorities

In line with the strategic priorities of the department and the Australian Government, the SSC is identifying new ways of delivering services to derive additional value for taxpayers.

The SSC’s service delivery is underpinned by four strategic goals. The SSC will:

  • ensure cultural alignment with users to deliver a high-performing organisation
  • optimise its service delivery to achieve operational excellence and improve productivity
  • focus on continuous improvement of its services
  • commercialise its partner model.

Services for the department

Recruitment

The SSC supports the department to maintain compliance with the government's APS recruitment arrangements and effectively manage approved external recruitment processes. The recruitment administration team has assisted the department by streamlining the processes associated with the generation of offer letters and commencement of new employees.

In 2014–15 the SSC provided support to the department for recruitment processes, including bulk exercises such as the graduate recruitment round and the Indigenous Australian Government Development Programme.

Recognition at the APS Diversity Awards

The Indigenous Australian Government Development Programme—first managed by the former Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and now by the SSC on behalf of the two partner departments—won the inaugural prize at the 2014 APS Diversity Awards in the Indigenous Employment category.

The APS Diversity Awards are designed to recognise and reward innovative programmes aimed at improving diversity in the APS, particularly in the areas of disability and Indigenous employment. Nominated programs are considered against criteria such as making a difference, being innovative, being sustainable and replicable, supporting collaboration and one APS and reflecting the agency’s commitment to APS-wide diversity.

The programme, designed to increase Indigenous Australians’ participation in the APS, was recognised for building participants’ confidence and capability as well as forming lasting linkages between participating agencies and Indigenous Australians. The programme has been continuously improved and strengthened with 53 participants in 2014–15, an increase from 32 in 2013–14.

Communication

During 2014–15 the SSC provided the department with web development, communications design and audiovisual services, including event management and webcasting of corporate events. Over time it is anticipated that standardising services and increasing the customer base will reduce unit costs and enable the SSC to operate more innovatively.

The SSC audiovisual team worked collaboratively and liaised with delegate countries and their respective media organisations to provide support for the G20 Labour and Employment Ministerial Meeting in Melbourne. The team provided valuable oversight of the complex broadcast arrangements and assistance with the management of broadcast issues.

The SSC audiovisual team worked with the department to establish a purpose-built facility to enable on-demand webcasting and facilitate two-way engagement with staff and stakeholders across Australia.

The team also produced on-demand video and animated products for the department that included video products promoting the benefits of the Work for the Dole programme, the changes resulting from the implementation of jobactive from 1 July 2015 and video addresses by the Federal Safety Commissioner.

The design and web development teams rebranded the department’s website, developing a contemporary design to reflect the department’s key business objectives. The visual identity was complemented with navigation tools to enable access to information on the website.

Asset management

The SSC manages the department’s non-financial assets, including property and facilities, under the policies maintained by the department. The department’s policies and procedures, listed in the Secretary’s instructions, emphasise whole-of-life asset management as well as specifying how the department manages the acquisition, issuing, management and disposal of relevant property, loss of relevant property and any relevant assets under construction.

In 2014–15 the SSC developed a centralised gifts and benefits register and completed a stocktake to validate the existence and location of department-owned assets.

Purchasing and grants

The SSC supports the department’s purchasing and grant processes, including training, and facilitates and advises on policy and process review. The SSC also facilitates internal and external reporting on procurement and grants activities.

The department retains responsibility for the approval, conduct, documentation and reporting of procurement and grants processes. This includes responsibility for authorising policy and processes related to procurement and grants practices in the department. The department also continues to be a lead contributor to whole-of-government initiatives to standardise and improve procurement and grants processes.

Purchasing

The department’s purchasing policies and practices, implemented by the SSC, are consistent with all relevant Commonwealth laws, the Commonwealth financial framework (including the Commonwealth Procurement Rules) and other relevant policies. Specialist legal and probity advice is available to all areas of the department engaged in procurement.

The department uses AusTender to publish its procurement activities and plans. As a result, the department’s procurement activities are readily communicated and accessible to all business enterprises. No contracts were exempt from AusTender reporting during 2014–15.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses

The department implemented the Indigenous Opportunities Policy and internal procurement policies aimed at increasing opportunities for businesses owned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The department works in partnership with Supply Nation in applying the policies to support participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses in Australian Government procurement activities.

Small businesses

The department supports small business participation in the Australian Government procurement market. Participation statistics for small and medium enterprises and small enterprises are available on the Department of Finance’s website at www.finance.gov.au/procurement/statistics-on-commonwealth-purchasing-contracts.

The department recognises the importance of ensuring that small businesses are paid on time. The results of the Survey of Australian Government Payments to Small Business are available on the Department of the Treasury’s website at www.treasury.gov.au/PublicationsAndMedia/Publications?q=payments+to+small+business&go=1.

The department’s mechanisms for supporting small businesses include:

  • using standardised contracts for low-risk procurements valued under $80,000
  • incorporating Australian industry participation plans in whole-of-government procurement where applicable
  • implementing the small business engagement principles (outlined in the government’s industry innovation and competitiveness agenda), such as communicating in clear, simple language and presenting information in an accessible format
  • using electronic systems or other processes to facilitate on-time payment performance, including the use of payment cards.

Grants

Information on grants awarded by the department during 2014–15 is available at www.employment.gov.au.

Consultants

Through the SSC, the department engages consultants to provide independent and expert advice or services, taking into account the skills and resources required for the task, the skills available internally and the cost-effectiveness of those options. The decision to engage a consultant is made in accordance with the PGPA Act and related regulations.

The methods of selection used for consultancies are open tender, prequalified tender, limited tender and panel arrangements (initially selected through either an open tender or prequalified tender process). Consultants are typically engaged to investigate or diagnose a defined issue or problem; carry out defined research, reviews or evaluations; or provide independent advice, information or creative solutions to assist the department in decision making.

During 2014–15, the department entered into 36 new consultancies, involving total actual expenditure of $1,931,591. In addition, seven ongoing consultancy contracts were active during 2014–15, involving total actual expenditure of $221,842.

Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website at www.tenders.gov.au.

Information technology

Delivery of the department’s outcomes is supported by a range of IT services, including application development and support, business analytics and geospatial reporting, application hosting, infrastructure provisioning and other support services. Responsibility for the department’s IT is shared between the department, which continues to sustain and develop its major business applications, and the SSC, which manages the rest of the IT services for the department.

The SSC provides the department with human resource and finance IT services. During 2014–15 a comprehensive SAP Connect platform upgrade was completed, which will enable the SSC to migrate core services onto SAP’s high-performance analytical application—a new super-fast database technology platform—during 2015–16.

As a leader in the adoption of cloud computing within government, the SSC has established 240 servers in the public cloud, used for the development and testing of applications and enabling the department to take advantage of the flexibility offered by cloud computing where privacy and performance constraints allow. The SSC also began a data centre relocation project to align with whole-of-government data centre policy and provide a high-quality managed service with increased redundancy and reliability. The relocation project is complex; the transition to different locations involves many interrelated components which must be carefully planned and managed. Despite the challenges, the project is on schedule for completion by December 2015.

The information security operations and forensics team provides security and authentication services to the department, using new technologies to enhance security by reducing vulnerabilities of the department’s websites and applications.

The SSC complies with the Australian Signals Directorate’s Top 4 Mitigation Strategies to protect the department’s websites and systems. There were no known security breaches of the department’s websites or systems during 2014–15.

The successful implementation of SAS Visual Analytics software last year is supporting decision makers by enabling them to easily and quickly visualise and understand their data to make better policy, programme and corporate decisions. Enhanced geospatial capabilities for the department’s labour market information portal are also assisting employees to better understand labour markets at the national, state, labour force region, employment service area and statistical local area levels.