Global pandemic. Cratering economy. Decimated private sector. Huge jump in unemployment and business insolvency. But for our bureaucratic establishment, it’s business as usual.
Friday 31 July 2020 was an important day in the public servant calendar. This was the day that the Public Sector Innovation Awards were held. Two concepts that don’t generally go together.
Previously, these were swankier affairs, but this year, ceremony was a more intimate, by-invitation-only event. But fret not. It was streamed so that a nation of public servants can tool down to watch.
According to the Institute of Public Administration Australia:
A successful public service is one that can find new and better ways of doing things, and that can solve problems in new ways. It is one where new ideas are tried and tested, and where old approaches are phased out and replaced with new, more suitable and effective methods. It is one that is innovative.
Value for money? Legislated obligations? Citizen? No. Don’t be ridiculous. It’s about new and better ways.
So. What does a successful and innovative Australian public sector look like? Well. Here are some of the winners:
Services Australia (also) won a “judges’ award” for its streamlined digital JobSeeker claim experience, which was entered in the “citizen-centred innovation” category.
The streamlined delivery of JobSeeker has reduced the need for staff intervention and removed steps where people need to call or visit the agency in person. This has proven to be a crucial innovation during the coronavirus pandemic, particularly when the agency faced unprecedented demand.
Basically, an online application for JobSeeker. And it’s only 2020 and Australians can now apply for the dole online.
How about this one:
The Department of Parliamentary Services took home the “judges’ award” for its innovative cyber security awareness program, ‘Classified’.
The program was nominated in the “culture and capability” category. It uses public-private partnerships and storytelling methods to promote cyber security awareness among users, which the judges noted could be adapted for use by other organisations.
Really impressive given the huge cyber hack the Parliament experienced recently.
The Department of Education, Skills and Employment has taken home the award for “citizen-centred innovation” for its Regional University Centres program.
The program provides students with the option to remain in their regional or remote community while undertaking their study online in a fully supported campus-like environment, which the judges believed was “a unique and creative approach to higher education”.
A really impressive innovation to allow students to study online, in 2020. Particularly given the Department does not operate any higher education facilities.
But, after all, we are all in this together. Cake anyone?