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Bold is the new Beautiful

As we approach Budget 2022/23, we are all aware of the fiscal challenge that faces the Commonwealth. To deliver on what was promised to the Australian people during the Election, the Commonwealth must find efficiencies in its programs and policies.

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17 October 2022
Synergy Law
5 minutes

As we approach Budget 2022/23, we are all aware of the fiscal challenge that faces the Commonwealth. To deliver on what was promised to the Australian people during the Election, the Commonwealth must find efficiencies in its programs and policies.

The Public Service is going to be asked to do 'more with less’, a term many thought was long gone with the change in Government, but is even more real now given fiscal and staffing pressures that have mounted since the pandemic started. So now more than ever, the Public Service needs to be bold and innovative in how they approach business as usual and wicked problems.

Innovation in government requires you to try things that may not have been done before or to look at things that have been tried and failed, but from a different perspective. You may also have to review decisions you have taken that have produced less than optimal outcomes. It’s all about creating an environment where you are comfortable being uncomfortable. Embrace the challenge and embrace vulnerability because it is in this space where individuals can see opportunity, and where the Commonwealth can find efficient, end-to-end solutions and better outcomes.

This idea might be confronting, but it should not be frightening. Being bold is the new beautiful! Embracing the challenge of finding that vessel for innovation or that medium for change which requires the APS and industry to work together. The APS should lean on industry to find efficient solutions to the issues they face, after all public/private partnerships do deliver enormous returns.

We all know that it is important to learn from and actively resolve issues, challenges and consequences of less than optimal outcomes. But how do you do this in an efficient and cost effective manner? How do you make sure the same issues don’t happen again? How do you partner to reach good outcomes and avoid people coming and going without leaving any lasting benefit?

So, what does good look like?

The APS must look for engagements that provide long term departmental uplift. To do this, it is important to understand your long-term needs, provide a safe environment for staff to call out issues, review those issues and look for better ways to do things. This ensures not only resolution but provides learning opportunities to drive better future results.

The point of difference that the Commonwealth should explore is engaging partners that want to gain a deep understanding of departmental drivers, and proactively support you to achieve your outcomes in a legally sound way.  Industry can lean into complex challenges to provide solutions and options to achieve intended outcomes in the most pragmatic, efficient, and effective way. They can (and must) also be engaged to transfer knowledge and upskill to the APS to support a stronger public service for the future.

Independent reviews and assessments can no doubt help pinpoint the risks and ramifications more clearly – and identify who is best to bear the risk, and how.

Royal Commissions, ANAO Audits, Gateway Reviews, and reporting obligations under legislation all draw these matters out. The media also plays a role in finding ‘the story’ from all that comes out in the public domain and may shed light on the most unattractive of angles – whether your agency is ready or not.

It is always best to know where your skeletons are – and actively manage your risks. You cannot eliminate risks – it’s about knowing what they are and how to mitigate and manage them. Being bold to ‘lean in’ and actively anticipate issues, as ugly as they can be, is a huge advantage.

We saw in the recent ANAO Audit into the Digital Transformation Agency that its ICT procurement framework was labelled as “weak” and “ineffective”. With a Government Inquiry announced into Commonwealth procurement practices, agencies and Departments must be proactive in seeking strategic solutions to their sourcing practices – and they should not be afraid to look to industry for unique solutions. The good the bad and the ugly, help us learn – and with those learnings, the good can always look even better.

We have been frank. We have been fearless. Let’s try “bold”, it is the new beautiful!

On the 3rd of November, Synergy Law is hosting Libbi Gorr (some of you might know her as Elle McFeast) for an evening of cocktails to inspire a discussion and provide food for thought on the importance of leaning into challenges, trying new things and finding ways to embrace the bold in order to enjoy all the successes that can come from it. If you are interested in attending this ‘bold’ discussion, please contact Bobbi Campbell at Synergy Law and we will send the details to you for the event.

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