PM&C: changing how government does business


The development of an innovative online briefing system has transformed the way the top central agency briefs the Prime Minister, breaking down barriers to collaboration by allowing the Prime Minister and his advisors to get information, ask questions and receive answers in real-time.

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Digital First Capability team took out one of the judges’ awards at the 2017 Public Sector Innovation Awards on Wednesday. In this post, the team explain why the project has captured attention across the public service.

PM&C Secretary and Head of the APS, Martin Parkinson, is on the record that the Public Service needs to be on the front-foot when it comes to service delivery.

‘There are many ways we can recognise disruptive forces and actively choose to innovate, rather than playing catch up with what citizens and businesses need.’

‘There is only one certainty in the current environment and that is simple—if we don’t get on board, the APS will be left behind.’

PM&C is rising to this challenge with an innovative digital briefing system.

While the party leaders hit the hustings during the 2016 Election, PM&C’s Digital First Capability team set about revolutionising the Incoming Government Brief (IGB).

The traditional IGB, hand-delivered to the Prime Minister, either in large paper-binders or in PDF format on an iPad, was replaced by a secure App.

The new system was designed and delivered to the Prime Minister in just 40 working days.

It challenged and changed ‘the way things are done’. It was innovative, intuitive and instant.

The Prime Minister was able to approve requests on-the-spot, or ask for information and receive responses in real-time.

The process was such a resounding success the system evolved into an everyday tool, which allows PM&C staff to brief the Prime Minister in real time with the latest information on policy issues.


Nick Cornish, the architect of the Digital First System, likened the old way of working as a conveyor belt—a slow, linear process which came to a grinding halt if one person was not at their station to add their component.

He describes the new system as a ‘centralised site for collaboration’, allowing multiple contributors to co-author documents, and the Prime Minister’s Office can be involved via a ‘comments thread’.

‘The system empowers APS employees by tapping into expertise and talents at all levels’, Nick explained.

‘It brings greater rigour, faster approvals and has streamlined the briefing process so it is “100 times easier”, according to one user.’

A good measure of success is the demand for the system. The Prime Minister’s Office has requested a range of products through the Digital First System, and the team at PM&C plan to share it with a number of other federal agencies. There is also interest from some state government departments.

Top photo: the PM&C officials accepting a judges’ award at the Public Sector Innovation Awards in Canberra this week, courtesy of IPAA ACT.