On the road to digital transformation.
So good to see the Digital Transformation Office looking at simplifying import processes. Back in 2013, Cogent was engaged to conduct a feasibility study to investigate the opportunities for greater consistency in systems design, common processes in permit processing for regulated imports and exports across the Commonwealth. The feasibility study was commissioned by Customs, in partnership with AGIMO, to provide an independent assessment and review of the approach towards common processes.
Prior to our study, there had been some analysis and consultation with up to 40 agencies that would be potentially involved in the mooted whole-of-government processing system, with differing levels of engagement, resistance, and/or acceptance. There was also increasing pressure across government to achieve efficiencies and savings, leading to the proposal for a common, whole-of-government approach. The range of agencies potentially involved in the common processes varied in size and speciality – across spheres of defence, health, nuclear materials, to wine exporters.
Our team undertook structured questionnaires and consultations with selected agencies to uncover the opportunities, risks and costs and benefits of the proposed common system. We mapped the various processes across both imports and exports, identifying commonalities and differences to expose the strengths and weaknesses of the common processing approach. From this information we were able to document the options for the proposed common system, and recommend the proposed approach that would bring the broadest benefit and greatest efficiencies to government and the Australian community.
Our feasibility study assessed several options ranging from a whole-of-government case management style system, to re-use of existing systems within agencies, and development of targeted solutions addressing permit processing problem areas. We identified much the same pain points as the DTO:
- the burden to industry where multiple permits are needed from different agencies, for the same goods – they need to give the same information to different agencies, several times over;
- the significant overhead of manual, paper-based permits, for both industry and government agencies;
- the range of different application systems and processes used by the different permit agencies;
- the potential for fraudulent usage of permits, because agencies are unable to track the usage of the permits they issue;
- the effects on our international standing, because agencies cannot meet their obligations under international treaties to report on such goods, from local flora and fauna to narcotics.
Cogent’s recommended solution outlined two components:
- a ‘permit mapper’, which would streamline the permit application process; and
- a ‘permit tracker’, to provide independent verification of permits at the border, as well as facilitating permit query and reporting capabilities.
We look forward to seeing the results of the DTO’s digital delivery hub, with the Beta expected to be available to the public in April 2016. Progress is positive, with the alpha assessment already passed.
Mandy Nearhos, Director, ICT Strategy Division