Tax Office takes top honour at PM’s management awards

By Stephen Easton

Wednesday November 9, 2016

The sign of an Australian Taxation Office shopfront is seen in Canberra, Friday, May 9, 2014. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has won the Gold Award in the 2016 Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Public Sector Management for streamlining its superannuation processing work.

The SuperStream project standardised the way the ATO, employers, super funds and service providers transmit information and money.

The judging panel commented the initiative was “remarkable” in scale and complexity, as well as for “the potential and actual benefits” that flowed to individual citizens and superannuation industry firms. The judges added:

“The problems and inefficiencies in the existing system were well understood by the ATO, and these provided the blueprint for the development of SuperStream itself. The ATO took what had been identified through extensive consultation and review processes and made this the core of its work program – it started with a shared basis of which all industry participants had ownership.

“The initiative demonstrated the highest levels of planning and governance, and that the ATO developed and delivered the capacity to take its stakeholders, as well as its own staff, through a significant change in the way it undertook its business.

“The ATO in conjunction with its stakeholders co-designed data standards and systems to ensure the effective transfer and accounting of superannuation funds. The results of this initiative are already significant with considerable savings to industry.

“SuperStream is a staged initiative with further tranches to be finalised in late 2016, which will add further value to an already remarkable implementation.”

The ATO SuperStream team receive the Gold Award from Cabinet Secretary Arthur Sinodinos. (Image: RLDI).
The ATO SuperStream team received the Gold Award from Cabinet Secretary Arthur Sinodinos. (Image: RLDI).

They might have been called the Prime Minister’s Awards for 15 years (minus Tony Abbott’s prime ministership) but they are judged by an independent panel, after short-listing by a group of assessors recruited from the local public sector. This year’s judging panel included former public servants Carmel McGregor, Andrew Metcalfe, Ian McPhee and Ann Steward alongside Professor Mark Evans, director of the University of Canberra’s Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis.

Cabinet secretary Arthur Sinodinos (pictured above with the ATO team) presented the gongs, which recognise public sector work groups, units and teams rather than individuals, this evening at the National Portrait Gallery on behalf of the Institute of Public Administration Australia ACT Division.

Following the ceremony, the local IPAA branch also hosted an opening reception for its annual conference, which kicks off Thursday under the headline: “Public Service: Thinking Big.” The professional body also provided a highlights video from the evening:

Silver awards to NSW and Tasmania, a couple of commendations for Canberra

Silver PM’s Awards went to Sydney Local Health District, for putting place an electronic medication management system called eMeds at Concord Hospital in Sydney, and the Tasmanian Department of Education for its roll-out of new Child and Family Centres — a strong follow-up after winning the Gold Award last year.

The Tasmanian Department of Education representatives receive their award. (Image: RLDI)
The Tasmanian Department of Education representatives received a Silver Award. (Image: RLDI)

The judges described the NSW Department of Health’s eMeds implementation as “a complex and innovative initiative to improve medical accountability and patient welfare” and were impressed by improvements to medication safety improvements, including a 66% reduction in total prescribing errors and a 44% reduction in serious prescribing errors. They added:

“The success of this initiative was grounded in early and effective stakeholder consultation together with outstanding planning (which included partnering with the Australian Institute of Health Innovation to establish baseline data for the trial).

“The trial demonstrated effective governance arrangements with involvement from all hospitals in the Sydney Local Health District plus representation from NSW eHealth. Highly effective change management and communications strategies were put in place to ensure that all staff were successfully transitioned through the major change from paper-based to electronic medication management. Progress of the trial was subject to both qualitative and quantitative monitoring against the baselines.

“Overall this was a highly innovative and successful initiative, with several other NSW hospitals now following the path that Concord has pioneered.”

The team from NSW Health's Sydney Local Health District.
The team from NSW Health’s Sydney Local Health District also won a Silver Award. (Image: RLDI)

The Tasmanian Education Department’s implementation of the Child and Family Centres initiative across the state has been “highly successful” in reducing disadvantage in access to family and child services, according to the judges. They added:

“The results so far include the establishment of twelve Child and Family Centres, including two dedicated to Aboriginal families and the conception and implementation of a Learning and Development Strategy which was instrumental in facilitating a paradigm shift in service delivery – including genuine community engagement in the co-design and co-production of local service models.

“The Department responded effectively to a serious deficiency in the way family services were both provided and accessed in Tasmania by developing an access strategy that involved not merely the co-location of services but also a program of cultural change involving both service providers and clients.

“The Child and Family Centres provide a single entry point to universal, targeted and specialist early years’ services and supports from pregnancy to age five. A whole-of- government and community governance structure, overseen initially by then Premier and Minister for Education and Skills, David Bartlett, was put in place to provide clear direction and leadership.

“The initiative is outstanding for the way it has delivered an impact for individuals through a client-centric approach and the way in which multiple State-level players worked together to achieve a strategic outcome. The overall planning and governance was of a very high standard and the collaborative approach to combining disciplines and services was exceptional.”

The IPAA ACT judging panel also awarded commendations to the federal Department of Human Services for its Family and Domestic Violence Strategy and the Fair Work Ombudsman for its Online Learning Centre roll-out.

Overall, there were 21 nominations for the 2016 accolades from agencies all over the country, with most of the interest from Canberra.

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