Ross Musgrove, Deputy Director-General, Queensland Department of Premier and Cabinet speaks at the Queensland Council of Social Service conference in Brisbane about how the Queensland Government is trying to change the way services are provided.

Transcript

We think there are great opportunities for the sector in Queensland into the future in partnership with the Government.  We think there are great opportunities for your customers and clients into the future because of those partnerships with and we think that things can be done better; in fact we know things can be done better.  We look at other states and we can see that services can be provided in a more cost-effective way that benefit the clients and that is essentially our aim.

So I'm very pleased to be here.  I'm a passionate supporter of the transition the government has under way at the moment.  The treasurer is right that both him and the premier are also passionate about this.  A demonstration of that is in fact that the renewal program which involves COA.

All of the changes in government will move next week from the Public Service Commission to the premiers department.  We will have direct access.  I'll be working directly with the treasurer and the premier to ensure that the transition to the way that we provide services is, I guess, done in a timely fashion and sometimes that means we can do things straight away.  Sometimes it means we need to take things slowly as well to be careful about the people that we carry.

It is an absolute demonstration that how serious the government is about there are no two more senior ministers than the treasurer and the premier so I'm pleased to have accepted that role and I look forward to working with the treasurer into the future.  

I thought it might be worthwhile to let you know about the government's vision and goal, this was established in August last year.  I think it kind of sets the groundwork for why we're doing what we're doing and where this has come from.  It was a joint meeting between all of the ministers and all the heads of the public service to set a direction for the government for the foreseeable future.  

So the vision is to be a Government of the 21st century.  One government that is connected and working together to deliver smarter, simpler outcomes that are responsive to the needs Queenslanders now and for the future. We will create opportunities in partnership, so not alone, but in partnership that are all about positive outcomes rather than just service delivery and regulation.  And that pretty much encapsulates what the treasurer just said.  So the key things probably to focus on there are, smarter and simpler, which is what the red tape reduction I guess is about and the partnership.

We have come to a recognition that we can't do everything on our own and we're not getting the best outcomes trying.  The goal of course is to be the most responsive and respected public service in the nation.  Not second, not third but the best.  And we're measuring that.

Every six months we're doing a survey across the nation to check what the people are saying about the public services across a range of key public services they're getting.  That is not necessarily delivered by the state but maybe funded by state.  We're doing that check every six months to see we're going and that will continue.  So, the Premier has been very clear, he wants us to be the best and why would you have a goal that was anything less than that.

The Queensland Government will be more effective, deliver value for money and ultimately achieve better outcomes for Queenslanders.  Our public service employees know that but it's important also that our partners know that this is where we're heading, this is what we want to achieve.  We have recognized that we can only do it in partnership.  

Successfully achieving our vision and goal will require innovation.  We see this in a historical context.  The job outsourcing that was done by the Federal Government was a tremendous success. It was done probably 8 years ago.  It was a tremendous success because the Government didn't prescribe to the NGO sector or to the private sector how they could deliver the services or what services necessarily needed to be delivered.  It allowed for there to be innovation within NGO's and within the private sector about how those job services will be provided and we see the way forward for us very much in that way.  

When we are going through contestability or through outsourcing arrangements, we don't want to be prescriptive to NGOs in particular about how you must provide the service.  If we're just going to say you've got to provide it in exactly the same way that we are, well we're not going to get very different outcomes possibly.  So we want to allow for innovation want to allow for you to come up with good ideas.  We don't have them all.  In fact because of the history, unfortunately, it's human nature to be current state thinkers.  You kind of look at what you've got now and think well that's the way it's going to be.

We need all of your creative thoughts about how we can do things better for the customer.  The customer has got to be at the or the client has got to be at the centre of everything that we do.  We're looking for innovation at our work place.  We're looking for innovation with our partnerships and we're looking for innovation right across Government, whether we're engaging with the federal government, with local Governments or NGOs.  

So I'm just going to spend a little bit of time trying to explain Queensland's renewal framework.  You'll see up the top left hand side this B number one.  That is the, if you like, the new branding that will go across all government renewal programs and all COA programs.  That is a constant reminder that mission is a vision is to be the best in the country.  That's what that's about.  You're going to see a lot of that, it'll be on all government documentation around anything that we're trying to do that's innovative.  It's a great reminder that keeps people focused.  

We have three main elements to Queensland's renewal framework.  The Lead, that's about leadership and the government is providing that.  I'm not going to go too much into that because that's mainly internal to government.  Engage.  There's a little bit of the engagement that relates to you but mainly that's with our work force about trying to change their behaviours.

What I'm going to spend a lot of time on today with you is Enable, because that's where really there are great opportunities within the NGO Sector.  Measures of success of course you'll see on the right hand side.

We want to increase productivity, we want to get a better place to work, we want to improve customer experience and we want to decrease the cost to Queenslanders.

I work closely with the treasurer and one figure that just sticks in my mind, and I'm also on the health reform board as well, is that if we do nothing to reform the way we provide health services in Queensland then the health budget will continue to rise and by only 2030 it will consume the entire state budget.  There will be not one dollar left for anything else.  Not for education, not for transport or roads, not for police, not a dime left for anything else so we obviously can't continue to do things the way that we have.  We must be innovative and we must look at providing services in different ways.  

So this is the Enable.  You'll see a range of boxes and this is not exhaustive because we had to fit the word Enable in. There are many more things that fit in there.  

It's whole of government reporting.  That's the red tape reduction that we spoke about.  Contestability framework, which the treasurer has spoken about.  One-stop shop which is a program where hopefully you can just go to one place and you'll be able to deal with any government service.

Legislative reform, that's more on the red tape reduction and trying to streamline that simpler, smarter ethos.  Most bills that I notice go through the parliament these days seem to be about that.  It's about stripping out red tape in trying to streamline processes and that's great to see.

Performance Management.  I need to be frank, we're not very, we haven't been very good at performance management.  Generally if you've joined the public service you've joined for life, regardless of how you perform.  It comes up as the number one issue from our employees in our employee surveys.  They say that we don't do performance management well and they don't like the fact that we don't hold people to account.  People who aren't working as hard or as well as they should do or perhaps just not working well with others.  So we need to be better at that.

Procurement transformation, another area which really intersects with you guys.  Procurement processes have been very cumbersome, very strict, not enabling that innovation that we've been talking about.  We need to allow for that and reform our procurement ways of doing things to enable more innovative solutions to be found.

The Open Data Initiative, we're trying to put as much data on the internet, on the websites as possible so that you can data mine.  You shouldn't need to do an RTI to find out some basic information that might help you in your roles in providing services.  Seeing where growth is, transport patents or things of that nature.  

Corporate Services renewal, that's dry, internal government stuff.  I'm not going to bore you with that.  

ICT strategy is very important.  Obviously there's a great opportunity for the Queensland Government to get with it in the ICT world.  In many choices we still require people to fill out manually forms, handwrite forms even if we do have a website, it's often very clunky, it's not very user-friendly.  We have very few phone apps available still, and yet phone apps are a great way to allow people to interact with any business, whether it be Government or NGO.  We're getting better at that, we're developing one.

Police have got a phone app out and it's really great value.  I was in a traffic accident recently.  I didn't have the phone app, but I downloaded it because they told me about it when I rang up.  And it was much quicker than waiting for a police officer to turn up to the traffic accident because literally it took two minutes to download, you take a photo of your car, it automatically locates where you are, so it fills in the address and everything for you and you send it off.  Much quicker than waiting for the Police to turn up and you're not clogging up roads as well.  You can also report burglaries and other things.  It's a great innovation.

So ICT is going to be very important obviously for anyone dealing with customers into the future.  Renewal is about delivering our vision and achieving our goals.  So, customer focus, innovation, excellence, agility and productivity.

Governance and accountability, of course it's the public's money we've always got to be careful about governance and accountability.  

Contestability, commissioning and core services, contestability is important.  Why?  Well it's not about necessarily the dollars, it's about trying to get the best services delivered for Queenslanders.  It is about trying to find better ways of delivering services. We know that we don't have I guess a right to say that only state governments can continue to provide services, be actually the service provider.  We think that there is a much better way forward.  

So what's contestability?  It's about finding new and better ways to deliver services for Queensland's changing needs.  Contestability continually challenges what we do and how we do it.  We can't just say, that's the way we do things and we're never going to change.  We've got to be continually challenging that and say "are we delivering the best for our people?"  It's got to create opportunities for innovation, partnerships and a diversity of choice, much in the way that the NDIS does.  I think that seems to be a really good model, embraced by all sides of politics.  Contestability ensures the best possible service at the best possible time and place at the best possible price.  We use our resources more effectively to ensure value for money for Queenslanders and the need for public services are constantly changing and we need to be much more flexible on that so we must allow our services to evolve and we must evolve in the way that they're delivered.  

In terms of contestability, you might recall that it's not that long ago certainly that banking and insurance were provided by Government.  Suncorp was originally of course owned by the State Government. The Commonwealth Bank was owned by the Federal Government.  There was SGIO and a range of other insurance arms that were owned by governments.  Governments have exited all of those and no one I don't think would argue that government should get back into the banking business or into the insurance business.  

The areas where we think there are greatest opportunity for contestablity.  So in utilities that's a obviously water and power and things like that, transport infrastructure, toll roads are a fairly common thing all around the world provided by private providers.  Buses, most of our buses in South East Queensland are already provided by private providers.  Health and education, obviously private hospitals and private or NGO schools are very common and very successful not just for the wealthy. 

I think one of the great things that is happening in service provision is happening actually with Indigenous residents of Cape York and the Gulf of Carpentaria.  There are a number of NGOs providing scholarships for boarding schools from that area and the outcomes are just tremendous.  I was fortunate enough to meet with the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation a couple of weeks ago. 91 percent of the kids that are getting their scholarships are completing grade 12 which is just fantastic and unfortunately government hasn't managed to get anywhere near that sort of completion rate in those areas. That's a great example of how NGOs are often much better at providing services than government.  

Prison's, we already have two private prisons in Queensland.  

Not just room for engaging more with the private sector, but also NGO sector in non-custodial services.  I think there's a lot of Opportunity in that area.  Police is very topical of course with the speed cameras and so on, but you can see that it kind of decreases as you go down to legislation and policy advice where there's probably not much room but generally in the service sector there's quite a lot of room for contestability.  

We have a contestability life cycle which is, like everything else in government, a process but we're trying to make it pretty simple.  All departments who are providing services will go through that and we'll evaluate whether or not services can be provided, should be made contestable and if they can be provided by somebody else for the benefit of the community.  

There are minimum documentation requirements to complete each stage gate so we need to ensure departments are being open and frank about what their real costs are.  That's quite difficult to establish sometimes.  But we need to separate, for example, policy and regulation from service delivery arms of departments so that we can work out what the real costs are.  

We need to have good governance to ensure a fair and even playing field for NGOs who want to participate in these processes.  It's no point, you won't engage if you think it's rigged from the start.  We won't allow that to happen.  I sit on a number of different levels of the governance arrangement for this and we'll be very careful about that.  

Practice and capability support, this is becoming an issue.  We've come to the realisation that we've got a real capability deficit in the Government in terms of going through some of these processes, I'll just be frank about that.

That's a historical thing because we don't, we haven't as a government been doing this kind of work.  So we don't have people who are used to going through contestability processes or running contestability processes.  We don't have many staff who are used to designing contracts or partnering with NGOs, we certainly don't have anywhere near enough.  And we don't have people who have the background in contract management because of course.  It's not just establishing a contract, they all need to be managed on an ongoing basis. 

We're trying to up-skill internally, but we also realize that you might need to up up-skill your people as well because there's going to be a whole range of new processes for NGOs to go through.  So, worth having a bit of a think about how we can support you in up-skilling your staff as well, because we need to have the capability across the board.  Everyone needs to have that to get the best outcomes.

Just on that, we've sort of established a bit of a mantra of buy, borrow, build when we talk about capability so we can buy it, we can, you know, get consultants in. 

Borrow which we're trying to do a lot more of.  Many other states as you would know are way ahead of us in this field.  We are really the last state really to start this kind of process.  So we're trying to borrow staff from other states and even New Zealand to bring into our departments to have a knowledge exchange and comments for a year or two years while we go through this period of activity.  

Build, well obviously that's training our staff internally so Buy, Borrow and Build is the way that we're trying to approach that.  We want to have a recognized methodology used to support the process through the framework so we all can become familiar with the way things are done and you don't have to re-learn every time you approach government in a contestability round you don't have to re-learn the process, it becomes a standardised process. 

So all of this is supported by these new Queensland Government values that were launched here about two weeks ago by the premier and on this very stage. So, customers first and this is absolutely driving everything these values are for all of our staff and it is really the first time that we've had a whole of government value system in Queensland.  

They were developed not by the, not top down but by our staff.  Customers first, ideas into action, unleash potential, very important.  Be courageous is also important.  It is the way of working in government that we tend to be very cautious, have tended to be very cautious.  We are being allowed to be much more courageous in the way that we work in our every day.  It means we've been pushing delegations down and allowing more junior staff to make decisions instead of having five or six people approve it as we go up.  And empowering our people.  So, very important that we let our people get on with it.  

I just want to talk very quickly about some of the successes that have been achieved so far and we don't talk about them enough.  This is the neat figures, this is access to emergency departments.

So, the percentage of patients who leave emergency departments within four hours, category one patients.  You can see that it had been getting progressively worse, in fact we had the worst numbers in the country.  In that the last, particularly the last 18 months we've seen a massive turnaround.  In fact we now have the best numbers in the country.  You will be seen quicker in a Queensland major hospital emergency department than anywhere else in the country, which is just fantastic to do it in really a little over a year. 

Doctors and nurses are doing great things.  How did we do it?  By that simpler smarter.  We have simplified the processes, we've worked smarter.  We ask the people who actually work in the departments to redesign, to work with a team to redesign their processes and that has worked.  It's having a flow-on effect.  Ambulance response time is dropping.  So, this is for code ones. In metropolitan areas they have dropped much more than 42 seconds.  This is across the state, these figures.  And of course code one cases are where it is a life and death thing.  42 seconds might not sound long now but if you're having a heart attack, 42 seconds is a very long time.  That's because ambulances aren't ramped at hospitals as much as they were, that's getting along well.  

And our trains, the metropolitan train network.  We've got on-time delivery up 96 percent that's world's best practice pretty much.  We won't get much better than that.  We'll try but we won't get probably much better than that.  That's at the same time, as of course you would know, we've taken a number of staff out of Queensland.  It's been a great achievement; they're reducing their costs and improving their service delivery.  

And reducing red tape so you can see that environmental impact studies have been, times have been reduced by 50 percent.  So that's allowing the economy to get going again.  So these are just some of the examples of real improvement across the public service.

 

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