Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2007 15:02:40 +1100
From: steve jenkin
Subject: Finance, FMAA & ANAO - Good Management: Never any excuse for repeating known errors
Here is something very powerful, but simple to implement & run, to amplify your proposed review of government operations and can be used to gain a real advantage over the conservative parties. On 8-Nov I wrote a version via the ALP website.
The Libs talk about being Good Managers, but they have been asleep at the wheel for the last 10+ years.
It's not "efficient, effective or ethical" to allow public money to be wasted by repeating known mistakes.
Nothing new needs to be enacted - only the political will to demand Good Governance from bureaucrats and the 'ticker' to follow through.
In the 60yrs since WWII, how many defence purchases and projects have been abandoned, failed or over-run??
What about other large, important projects?
[Nobody has a list or a number. That in itself is a failure.]
If managers within the public service were properly held to account, how could there be so many 'surprises' still?
The situation is so dire, that there isn't even a list of what projects are currently underway, let alone their outcomes.
There is a simple, direct solution to solving the lack of Good Governance perpetrated by the Howard Government:
- direct consequences for managers repeating known errors, and
- Lessons Learned (good & bad) documented for all large projects and demanded on all later projects.
For the whole of Federal Government it would be ANAO + Finance (FMAA).
There is every reason to differentiate your administration from the laissez-faire approach to Governance of the current 'conservatives'. And it's both cheap and effective.
The Sea Sprite is a current debacle, the Collins class submarines were recent. The new RAAF aircraft is an unfolding drama. The Army had bad press over gear & boots not performing. But it isn't just Defence, it's endemic.
And the ANAO is aware - but is powerless to enforce change, only gently encourage.
Joe Hockey, when at Centrelink, had conniptions over the 'EDGE project' firstly failing, then no manager being accountable.
His 20-Apr-2005 press club speech contains:
The Auditor-General’s report released last week into the failed EDGE project in Centrelink indicates an urgent need for increased and more careful management attention to major projects. I expect constant vigilance and clear governance structures.But after all the hot air, soul searching and endless consultants reports what is different? Where is the on-going change?
The Auditor General address to the Institute of Project Management on 7-October-2007 mentions just a few projects of interest (on the front page of
- 1979 - JCPA review of the cancelled MANDATA
- 1983 - Audit report on Defence major capital acquisitions
- 2005 - Centrelink EDGE project
- 2005 - Defence PMKeyS Project
- 2006 - Customs ISS review
- 2007 - Defence HF Comms Systems Modernisation Project
- 2000 - Construction of the National Museum of Australia
- 2004 - Defence acquisition of ‘Wedgetail’ Airborne Early Warning and Control Aircraft
Clearly is that was effective, it would've worked 30 years on from the MANDATA report.
A 2005 KPMG project management survey is quoted as saying:
- Govern to achieve,
- Hold to account
- independent, detailed 'root cause' analysis of all incidents - applicable across the entire jurisdiction
- strict accountability for all incidents, not just obvious accidents, by the enforcement/regulation agency
- Lessons Learned (good & bad) - documented and acted upon.
And you'd think it would be obvious Good Management...
The ANAO Poject Management comments, while true up to a point, will cost a huge amount to implement, will entail massive reporting & Governance costs and will only further entrench the current practices:
- there are never serious personal consequences for underperforming public service managers such as discipline, demotion or even firing.
Nothing in the current ANAO proposals & programs changes the one thing that will cause real change: Personal Accountability.
The ANAO paper confuses:
- Outcomes with Process
- Reporting with Responsibility
- Accountability and Assessment
- require every 'Gateway' project to lodge a Lessons Learned statement.
- require a detailed "root cause" analysis, with remedial actions, for every failed/over-run project
- via the FMAA, enact direct, personal consequences for those repeating known errors or failing to act on documented "Lessons Learned."
- this needs to include firing senior Public Service managers, and
- excluding companies and certain employees for any future government work.
- external to the object of examination,
- staffed by 'outsiders', and
- limited tenure for those enacting outcomes.
Currently their only option outside the department is the media - which only makes bureaucrats defensive and causes embarrassment for their political masters.
This is simple and obvious "Good Management".
It is entirely within the powers of the FMAA, and a very strong point of distinction between your government and the current conservatives who've had 10+ years of not promoting Good Governance.
It fits in with, and amplifies, your proposed review of the Public Service.
The direct political benefit to the elected members and ministers is:
- Ministers can legitimately divorce themselves from bureaucratic stuff-ups,
- Embarrassing projects can avoid the media and be handled internally - and the investigation turned into a positive.
- The government can reliably & credibly promise to the electorate:
- That won't happen again", and
- "If anyone does that again, heads will roll".
- Ministers won't normally fire or demote underperforming managers, but the FMAA bureau would - improving the relationship and trust between departments and ministers.
(*) Martin, A. and M. Chan (1996). Information Systems Project Redefinition in New Zealand: Will We Ever Learn? Australian Computer Journal, 28 (1)