2005 KM in Government Awards
Networks of Excellence
CRS Australia is an agency within the Australian Government Department of Human Services that delivers vocational rehabilitation services to assist people with a disability, injury or health condition to find or keep suitable work. The organisation operates across Australian, with a range of professional discipline boundaries (professional stovepipes), within different states.
This project was commenced in 1997 and was one of a few projects designed to lower costs and improve productivity by minimizing the duplication of products and services and enabling access to a wider range of expertise and information throughout the organisation. The organisation had a very basic IT infrastructure and had no way of capturing market intelligence or connecting to outreach programs. The objective of this project was ‘pursuing excellence in the provision of rehabilitation services through identifying, supporting and promoting best practices in a range of specified service delivery areas’. This objective was aligned to the business goals of improving productivity and providing services, which met customer needs and maximized client outcomes. It aimed to capture, improve and share expertise.
Groups of specially selected practitioners, who crossed organisational boundaries, were formed to facilitate the transfer from tacit to explicit knowledge. The Networks were set up where the agency perceived that there was a business advantage, which is to improve capability and expertise where it might deliver competitive advantage. In Feb 98 they had 5 Networks in action, this has grown as high as 10 but currently there are 8 in operation. The specially selected individuals on these networks form a group to work together to review and update, or create the best practice guidelines in their area of expertise. Each expert keeps a close watch on anything that is happening in their field, developing and continuously improving guidelines, lending their expertise to specially set up chat rooms and other national organisations, new learning strategies etc.
- For Example the Networks have delivered new and or improved
- Case management guidelines
- Mental health guidelines
- Acquired brain injury information kit
- Functional education toolkit
- Employment strategies
These Networks are now embedded in the way that CRS Australia works. They have the enabling technology in place, there is an Innovative Strategies Manager responsible for the people and the processes, and there are special requirements for participants. Participants are appointed for a two-year stint, with regular 6-month intakes, this means that new people are moving through regenerating the Networks and burnout doesn’t occur. The members are highly respected expert individuals within their field and have a capacity to motivate and lead staff. These people are not paid extra for their involvement, but are highly motivated staff that are recognised by their peers and the managers of the organisation. This work often results in members of the network getting opportunities in other parts of the organisation.
Since the Networks commenced there has been a demonstrable improvement in the quality and consistency of service provision across the organisation. An independent evaluation demonstrated that the Networks have provided the organisation value for money, as well as contributing to a more cohesive national organisation effectively utilizing multidisciplinary approaches to developing new resources and improving existing ones.
At the individual level, participation allows staff to focus on something different to their usual role, and for rehabilitation consultants this can be the difference between adequately managing their workload and burning out. Individual members create new networks of contacts and resources they can utilise at a later time. This participation encourages members to see ‘the big picture’ rather than, the albeit, important, small client based focus they have to have day to day.
But CRS aren’t yet finished with this, they are looking to evolve these networks even further, and have a number of ideas for their future.
GOLD TECHNICAL AWARD
Department of Family and Community Services:-
Special Project for the Digital Conversion of the ‘Guide to Social Security Law’ Historical Releases.
The ‘Guide to Social Security Law’ is a primary corporate resource for decision-making and interpreting social security law. This Guide had started its life as paper and in the early 90’s had been converted to electronic form. The backups on diskette were kept in a variety of places and each release took somewhere between 10 and 14 diskettes. These were the only copy and had to be loaded one by one by the user, which was eventually the DfaCS Library. These versions were important in a range of ways including monitoring policy development and appeals tribunals.
When the project started 35 releases were identified and converted and a further 54 were identified and recreated. This recreation was as you can imagine a huge task, but a very important part of the integrated guide for the future. Everything is now all together in one place in a logical sequence and easy to use.
Since the launch of this new historical Guide both Family and Community services staff and a number of agencies have access to it and are now using it. People are now able to quickly find and identify the information they need to make whatever their decisions are, more quickly and accurately.
The Library deciding that, as this was a knowledge product it would be evaluated using Knowledge tools and this was done using Narrative techniques to gather anecdotes to demonstrate how the product is actually used. They also used the more traditional survey style of evaluation. The findings showed that not only was the historical guide saving time and money but also had reduced risk as a result of applying the correct information to policy development and in appeals tribunal exercises, thus staff have a high degree of confidence in the product. National Archives have acknowledged this project as a leading example of digital archiving.
SILVER TECHNICAL AWARD
Department of Veterans’ Affairs:-
Records Management Project.
This award though it sounds like and in fact is a major information management project; has delivered in the knowledge arena as well.
DVA exists to serve members of Australia’s veterans and Defence communities, war widows, widowers and dependants. The organisation has been in existence for over 80 years and has around 90 kilometers of files, half in the custody of DVA and half in the custody of National Archives. These records must be retained for very long periods of time (130 Years) on behalf of the veterans, however these records are of extraordinary value to people in the military history and medical research field. But really it must be remembered that they are a significant part of Australia’s History.
This project is a model of an information project designed to improve business, however it has also lead to a range of new behaviors within the organisation. Management have become champions and users, staff have a greater understanding of the need for better records. There has been an improvement in relationships with a range of organisations that work with the department such the Ministers Office, Local members and of course the veterans organisations. There were unexpected savings because of the greater facility this system provided, and last but not least there has been an improvement in service to the veterans themselves. As always with this sort of project staff find many new ways to utilize the benefits and this has also happened. Staff watching this project and its’ success have come up with more ideas to improve different processes leading to greater benefits for the knowledge worker within the organisation.
However the most important thing to remember is that these records are Australia’s records and they are now available for the many and varied research projects that may be undertaken both today and into the future, leading to a greater understanding of many issues, including us as Australians
SILVER CULTURAL AWARD
Department of Veterans’ Affairs:-
World War 2, Nominal Roll.
Part of DVAs charter is to commemorate the service and sacrifice of the men and women who served Australia and its Allies in wars, conflicts and peace operations. One of the ways that DVA tangibly demonstrates Australia’s commitment to that outcome is to publish and maintain the nominal roll of who has served in Australia’s wars, conflicts and peace operations. In doing this DVA are preserving our wartime heritage and leading to a greater respect for our veterans and serving personnel.
The World War 2 Nominal Rolls contains the service details of some 1 million individuals who served in the ADF and the Merchant Navy from 3 September 1939 to 2 September 1945, and details everyone’s contribution to our wartime history. The information was collected from all ww2 service records and these records were then transferred to the National Archives where they are now publicly available.
DVA has a website that allows easy access (even for Veterans) to this information, and they have included links to other relevant sites including National Archives, the War Memorial and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Since the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs opened the site in November 2002, there have been over 80 million hits and 26 million pages have been viewed. This is again a very important piece of work enabling a diversity of Australians, including the veterans themselves, their families and researchers to use this information in developing and keeping not only their own story but most importantly Australia’s as well. It is really hard to imagine what this project could mean to the Australians of the future.
BRONZE CULTURAL AWARD
Department of Environment and Heritage :-
‘ Secretary’s Awards for Knowledge Sharing and Mentoring’
This is a new and formal program of awards recognition within the organisation to encourage the cultural process of knowledge sharing and mentoring. The nomination and seconding for these awards is done by a range of people from a differing levels or parts of the organisation. There are three categories within the awards all based around sharing knowledge and rewarding those who go that little bit further in doing that.
This program has also contributed to the recruitment and effectiveness of volunteer Knowledge Champions within the organisation who feel they have a mandate and approval from senior management to develop and present new and innovative ideas and changes around the ongoing business needs.