Services to Australian Government Agencies Overseas :
This sub-program is administered by four branches in two divisions: the Finance Management Branch and the Staffing Branch within the Corporate Management Division, and the Information Management Branch and the Services and Property Branch of the Passports, Services and Security Division. Each branch’s area of responsibility includes the provision of services not only within Australia but also to all Australian overseas posts. Through the Global Support and Communications Centre, the Information Management Branch provides global telecommunications services to a total of 29 government agencies at 120 locations overseas.
n.a.: Not applicable.
Objectives, Performance Indicators and Result
During the period from July to December 1998, the department completed the implementation of the new Common Administrative Services Agreement smoothly and on schedule. This agreement replaced the International Administrative Support Agreement. The Common Administrative Services Agreement identifies the support services that can be purchased by Australian Government agencies that are located at DFAT-managed posts overseas. The new system, now fully operational, was developed in consultation with clients and is significantly more transparent and flexible than its predecessor. For example, agencies had no choice under the old agreement in the services available to them, and a flat fee applied. Under the new agreement, agencies are now offered a menu of six generically defined service groups—personnel services (Australia-based staff), personnel services (locally engaged staff), office services, property services, financial services and communications—with each service group attracting a separate fee. Currently, 28 agencies are signatories to the Common Administrative Services Agreement.
We retained our role as the principal provider of administrative support to Australian Government agencies overseas. Overall, our clients expressed satisfaction with the level of administrative support, wider choice of services and higher level of accountability offered under the new Common Administrative Services Agreement. Nevertheless, we are committed to seeking ways (through regular evaluations and client feedback sessions) of continually improving the efficiency and effectiveness of our services.
Of agencies with staff on long-term overseas postings, 28 have also adopted the department’s new system for calculating the overseas living allowance (see also Sub-program 5.2).
In line with the department’s responsibilities relating to locally engaged staff, we provided timely and accurate advice to client agencies about terms and conditions, the effects of local labour laws, and the procedures to be observed when altering locally engaged staffing structures. Agencies have indicated satisfaction with our services relating to pay and conditions for their locally engaged employees.
The department’s Global Support and Communications Centre provided information technology infrastructure and technical support to all Australian overseas posts. This support is provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for over 750 users from 29 government clients ranging in size from the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs to the National Library of Australia. We maintain regular, often daily, personal contact with clients. Feedback indicates that clients are increasingly satisfied with our service.
During the year in review, we signed service-level agreements with six additional government agencies . These agreements are designed to promote better understanding of the services that the department provides. Agreements have now been signed with all our major external clients, demonstrating the confidence that clients have in our communications and information technology services.
*Excludes email communications.
**Concerns only those faxes handled by the GSCC and does and and does not take into account faxes sent directly from divisions.
† Of the 2 100 calls resolved by the GSCC, 80 per cent were resolved within 15 minutes.
n.a.: Service not available.
Each Australian overseas post is responsible for managing its annually allocated property budget in accordance with its own office and residential priorities. During the year in review, there was strong evidence of prudent management of these budgets by posts. Repairs and maintenance, and furniture and fittings projects were all managed within budget parameters. In addition, feedback from posts indicated satisfaction with the timeliness and effectiveness of our advice and technical support in the management of space allocation, and residential and office property maintenance. We also consulted posts closely on broader strategic issues relating to the devolved overseas property framework. Other issues on our property agenda included the overseas asset sales managed by the Department of Finance and Administration, and the proposed outsourcing of Commonwealth Government property management.
Inter-agency property issues at Australian overseas posts are addressed through a consultative system of post property committees, comprising officers from the various agencies represented at the post. These committees report to post management.
The department provided budgetary and administrative support for actual and proposed chancery relocations and refurbishments in Abu Dhabi, Caracas, Guangzhou, Harare, Hong Kong, Rangoon and Warsaw. Similar support was provided for the refurbishment of residences of heads of mission in Riyadh and Manila, and for new property construction projects in Apia (chancery building), Berlin (HOM residence, chancery and staff residences), Brasilia (chancery and HOM residence), Dhaka (HOM residence and staff residences), Honiara (staff residential complex), and Islamabad (HOM residence). Feedback indicated posts were satisfied with the level of support provided.
We also negotiated effective budgetary and design outcomes with the Department of Finance and Administration (the Government’s representative for Commonwealth-owned and leased property). In this regard, we liaised closely on tenant fitouts for commercially leased chanceries, and contributed to the design and layout proposals for construction projects.