Winners of Canberra’s Public Sector Innovation Awards announced

By Stephen Easton

Wednesday July 26, 2017

Six projects of the Commonwealth and ACT governments have been singled out as examples of good ideas coming out of government this afternoon at the second annual Public Sector Innovation Awards, presented this afternoon in Canberra.

ACT wins the award for Innovative solutions

The territory government’s best efforts were eligible to enter this year alongside entries from their federal counterparts, and its Reverse Auction system to promote renewable energy won the category for Innovative Solutions.

The judges felt it was an impressive idea that had a big effect without requiring a lot of resources.

“The ACT has led the way with this initiative, which demonstrates an innovative and entrepreneurial approach to renewable energy.

“The team delivered an excellent pitch that demonstrated results and showed collaboration in the global energy ecosystem. It was particularly impressive how multiple objectives had been achieved, including encouraging solar companies to locate here in Canberra, delivering broader benefits to local industry.”

Another ACT initiative, a system to enable “seamless” care for renal patients developed in partnership with the Southern NSW Local Health District, received a “special mention” for working across jurisdictions but the rest of the awards went to teams from the Commonwealth government.

CSIRO comes out on top for Culture and Practice

In the Culture and Practice category, the CSIRO won the award for setting up On, a “national science and technology accelerator” designed to help publicly funded researchers build entrepreneurial skills. The judges said:

“The CSIRO has demonstrated an innovative approach to an accelerator that is showing some very compelling early results. The pitch was bold and impressed the judges, including the strong focus on engaging with research teams to deliver a better result for Australia. The engagement with universities is excellent and is critical to their success, as demonstrated by the inclusion of a researcher in the team delivering the pitch.”

Digital and Data award goes to MARS

The Digital and Data award went to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources for the Maritime Arrivals Reporting System. The judges felt it “demonstrated innovation at a broad level through the success of the MARS system, which has fundamentally changed the approach to how in-coming vessels are managed by the department and the shipping industry” and were pleased to see strong buy-in from the shipping industry:

“The pitch was very good and explained a large and complex investment by the government. The results demonstrated are significant, including the change in focus of biosecurity resources to more high-value risks and threats.”

Two Judges Awards for central agencies

Two of the Commonwealth’s central agencies were also recognised “for their efforts to innovate the core business of the public service, including how ministers are briefed and how department resources are allocated” with special Judges Awards.

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s “digital first capability” was described as “an innovative online briefing system [that] has transformed the way the department 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” — and it is a great piece of work, according to the panel:

“It is a true disruption to the ‘conveyor belt’ approach to briefing and PM&C should be recognised for their leadership with this initiative.”

Secondly, the judges liked the Finance Department’s efforts to transform itself “inside and out” by asking staff to “think differently” and try out new ideas through experimentation. The judges said this was a good example of how to lead cultural change there were “clear results evident across the department in how resources are allocated and programs delivered”.

“It is positive to see this project delivering, two years since inception, with such strong support from the leadership within the department.

Who are these judges, anyway?

The awards are a joint initiative of the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) and the Public Sector Innovation Network (PSIN), which is primarily supported by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

As such, the judges are all familiar names to IPAA members from the ACT:

  • David Hazlehurst, deputy secretary, Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (chair)
  • Andrew Metcalfe, EY Federal Government Lead Partner, former federal secretary and past IPAA ACT president
  • Michelle Melbourne, co-founder and executive director, Intelledox
  • Jack Dan, national general manager, Telstra, and IPAA ACT Council member
  • Samantha Palmer, general manager, People, Culture & Communication, Australian Bureau of Statistics and IPAA ACT Council member

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