Queensland tries shared services again, minister claims more success this time


Payroll Concept

Queensland’s Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch proudly reports it is banking big savings from public sector digital transformation, in service delivery as well as back-office functions like financial and human resources management.

Queensland Shared Services (QSS) now supports HR and financial services for 25 agencies and processes millions of transactions every year including over 64,000 extra payments for people affected by Cyclone Debbie in March and April, according to a statement.

Transitioning to “eForms” in the public service has saved $4 million in costs over two years from over 320,000 transactions, the minister claimed. Digitising paper-based systems also makes them more easily tracked to prevent duplication and fraud, she said.

“The cost efficiencies are really starting to add up by ridding financial management systems of paper-based transactions and adopting a more whole-of-government approach to accounting, recruitment and payroll processing,” Enoch said. “By switching from manual to electronic payments the government is saving an estimated $13 per transaction.”

An earlier attempt to introduce shared services in Queensland through an agency within Treasury called CorpTech, established by the Beattie Labor government in 2003, resulted in the notorious Health payroll disaster that left the subsequent Liberal-National premier Campbell Newman musing publicly if it had been “the worst failure of public administration” ever seen in Australia — so the political stakes are high for the current Labor administration.

The Qld auditor-general is also watching; the “effectiveness of shared services” is on the agenda for 2017-18.

“We have taken real steps to leverage the benefits of shared services and make a positive difference to the delivery of government services and monitoring of financial transactions,” said Enoch.

“We have been seeing good outcomes and we will continue to ensure this happens and our systems remain first rate. Through upgrades, technology enhancements and other productivity improvements we are delivering greater value at lower costs. Clearly we’re committed to improving government services and delivering savings to the community.”

The minister said eight departments had already switched to shared ICT infrastructure and “common configurations … to streamline business processes” as well as eForms and automated workflows for accounts payable, accounts receivable and asset management.

One new finance system managed by the new shared services agency is now used by 19 agencies, she said, including eight departments and agencies that have only “recently” made the transition to the shared systems:

  • Environment and Heritage Protection
  • National Parks, Sport and Racing
  • Energy and Water Supply
  • Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships
  • Agriculture and Fisheries
  • Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games
  • Housing and Public Works (although it retains one legacy system needed for business).

QSS is now working with Queensland Ambulance Service and Queensland Fire and Emergency Service, Enoch reports.

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