The Department

2.1 Passport Services

Table 22: Resources Summary for Sub-program 2.1

Figure 33: Passport Services Program and Organisational Structure as at 30 June 1998

Sub-program Objectives

In 1997-98, the objective of sub-program 2.1 was to:

  • issue, efficiently and effectively, secure, high-quality travel documents to eligible Australian citizens.


Under the authority of the Passports Act 1938, the Department provides secure travel documents to eligible Australian citizens. The Passports Branch of the Passports, Services and Security Division administers the sub-program and the Department provides passport services through its offices in each state and territory capital city and Newcastle, as well as most Australia Post offices and overseas missions.

The sub-program pursues strategies designed to help achieve three of the Department’s corporate goals: to enhance Australia’s security; to help Australian travellers and Australians overseas; and to provide clients with highly professional, efficient and effective services. These strategies include progressively introducing simplified business rules, thereby maintaining a high standard of service as the number of applications increases, and developing new imaging and workflow technology to eventually generate significant improvements in productivity. Australian passports are at the cutting edge of international passport technology, making our travel documents amongst the most secure in the world. Over 50 per cent of passport production and processing is outsourced and further opportunities will be pursued as part of continuing efforts to improve client service.

Performance Information

In 1997-98, the Department indicated that it would evaluate its performance using:

  • successful implementation of a review outcome which identified restructuring and reorganisation options and further outsourcing opportunities
  • improved productivity
  • public satisfaction with passport services
  • maintenance of service standards
  • successful implementation of the technology plan
  • maintenance of the integrity of the document and issuing process.

Performance Outcomes

During the review period, the Department extended technological improvements in the passport production process to all Australian passport offices. Several foreign governments have expressed interest in this production and processing technology; consequently, the Department is working with private sector partners to develop commercial opportunities.

The Department also revised its passport business rules, saving $0.4 million in costs and simplifying the process for clients. Work began on organisational redesign to support better the re-engineered passport business process. The new structure will be introduced during the first half of 1999. As part of this process, the Department signed a $3.9 million contract with CV Services International Pty Ltd to develop imaging and workflow technology designed to deliver major efficiencies and save around $3 million per year in subsequent years. It also signed a $2.5 million contract with

Photo: Passport Officer, Josef Bausch, produces passports using the latest technology. (photo: Michael Jensen)

The Imaging Centre Pty Ltd for scanning over 7 million current passport dossiers into a new database to automate and improve the integrity of the passport issuing process, and renegotiated several major contracts, saving $0.98 million in a full year.

Another major benefit of this new technology will be to alleviate the increased pressure on staff from increased demand for passports. In the review period, the number of travel documents the Department issued rose by 12.6 per cent on the previous year, by 113 674 to 1 013 261. The Department handled this significant and continued growth in applications without reducing the standard of client service (fewer than 100 people formally complained about the quality of service), and by increasing salary expenditure by only 4 per cent. In addition, despite the increase in passport applications, the Department achieved an average turnaround period of nine days.

Public use of the Department’s Australian Passport Information telephone service increased by 333 500 calls to over 969 000, demonstrating its effectiveness. This service is available Australiawide for the cost of a local call. The number is 131 232 and operates seven days per week, from 8 am to 8 pm on weekdays, with slightly shorter hours at weekends. Information can also be obtained from the Department’s website (

In line with the Government’s Charter of Service in a Culturally Diverse Society, the Department drafted a Passport Service Charter to sharpen customer focus further by more clearly defining service standards; this is being finalised prior to implementation early next year.

Photo: Three of the 29 operators of the Australian Passport Information telephone service: (left to right) Van Manthongsy, Ian Franca and Stephanie Wyatt. (photo: Michael Jensen)

Return to Table of Contents

This page last modified: Tuesday, 16-Sep-2003 13:09:26 EST

Local Date: Wednesday, 28-Jan-2015 10:02:00 EST