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Corporate Operations - Building Capability

Improved professional standards and Integrity Framework

Customs is committed to the highest standards of ethical decision-making at all levels of the organisation and has implemented a more transparent approach to Professional Standards and Integrity. Building on the APS Code of Conduct, Customs has implemented improved and increased avenues to report unethical behaviour and strengthened internal processes.

Fraud Control responsibilities were transferred to Customs Internal Affairs to allow a balance in education, prevention and investigative strategies.

Customs Incident Reporting Centre, the Customs Compliments and Complaints hotline and the Customs Internal Affairs allow external and internal reporting of misconduct and non-ethical behaviour. Internal Affairs investigates all complaints of serious misconduct and suspected criminality against Customs employees. Internal Affairs has adopted the Australian Government Investigation Standards as minimum best practice and all investigators have professional qualifications as directed by the Fraud Control Guidelines.

Develop Workforce Capability

Leadership/management skills development

There has been significant investment in leadership development in 2008 aimed at both building the leadership capability of existing SES officers and developing a talent pool of CL5 staff for future SES vacancies.

A development program for SES and CL5 level staff in Leading Design and managing change was developed and delivered.

A high talent development program for CL5 staff was initiated. Participants were identified and endorsed by the SES. The first stage of the process was participation in an assessment centre to identify the key strengths and development needs of the group.

Review and improve the alignment with operations of recruitment, assignment, skilling and development programs

A project to review the development of Customs Trainee staff aims to ensure consistent training, assessment, skills and knowledge are provided to Customs staff to increase transferability and mobility. The project aims to standardise training materials for use nationally.

A review of the Customs Employment model has begun. The first stage of this project has been to differentiate between the job families. Appropriate employment strategies will be developed for each one, including attraction, assessment, training, transfer and employment conditions.

Long-term workforce plan

Regular and relevant metric reporting is being provided to Divisions to assist with workforce planning. Divisions are using various methods to model and plan for the future workforce.

Peak-time staffing and improved client service

In 2007 Customs introduced Customs Flexible Employees (CFEs) as a means of better dealing with peak passenger processing periods at international airports. They now work at Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth and Darwin airports and are currently undergoing training in Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

CFEs are used to handle unexpected shortfalls in daily staff requirements, against expected workload demand. The CFEs will continue to improve workforce flexibility, enabling more experienced staff to be redeployed to critical areas.

Engaging at the frontline

The ‘Engaging at the Frontline’ program has enhanced the skills and confidence of staff interacting with passengers while undertaking their border security functions. It has also strengthened the ability of supervisors to intervene and support their staff.

In 2007–08, 99 per cent of Customs frontline staff working at Australia’s eight international airports participated in one-day workshops. All airport staff job descriptions and performance and development agreements now include clear expectations about interaction with passengers.

The Customs Trainee learning and development program has also been revised to ensure the principles of the ‘Engaging at the Frontline’ program are incorporated into the induction for new staff.

National Operational Training and Development Section

The National Operational Training and Development Section (NOTDS) has been established and structured to deliver support services within the Border Enforcement Program. The section will continue to support a wide range of internal and external stakeholders through:

  • design, development, delivery and evaluation of training
  • knowledge management services
  • provision of specialist support to operations and Operational Readiness Exercises
  • capability development through task analysis and evaluation of equipment, tactics, techniques and procedures

Specific areas of capability which are supported by the Section include search operations (through manual means and the use of specialised technology), marine boarding operations and use of force. These capabilities are delivered within the Customs framework for operational command and with a commitment to ensuring that Customs officers are equipped with the knowledge, skills and attitude to safely and effectively fulfill their border protection role.

NOTDS contributes to Customs international development programs by training and mentoring staff from a variety of border management agencies in the Asia-Pacific region. Training is also delivered to staff from domestic agencies such as the Australian Federal Police, Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service and State and Territory police and fire services. To ensure the maintenance of best practice, NOTDS maintains regular contact with a network of agencies including HM Revenue and Customs, the New Zealand Customs Service, Canada Border Services Agency and US Customs and Border Protection, in addition to domestic law enforcement and regulatory agencies.

Intelligence and Targeting professional development

Intelligence and Targeting relies on highly skilled staff and has a dedicated training unit which develops and delivers training in analysis, systems and intelligence practices. Customs intelligence training is used by Australian and overseas partner agencies as well as Customs staff.

In addition to delivery of training, a major focus for 2007–08 has been the development of training support for the implementation of the Cargo Targeting Review. This work has included a collaborative approach with Industry Engagement and User Services Branch of Cargo Division to provide both systems and operational training.

Cargo workforce capability development

Cargo division relies on highly skilled staff to take full advantage of technologies and associated business processes to achieve Customs objectives.

In 2007–08 the Industry Engagement and User Services branch undertook a project to identify workforce capabilities relevant to its objectives of managing the Integrated Cargo System business change and provision of client information and other cargo services.

The project identified key capabilities to enable staff to be fully effective in their jobs and better target limited learning and development resources.

This approach will now be rolled out across the division.

Support Organisational Change Projects

Establishment of the Corporate Project Office

In June 2006, Customs received the findings from a review of the Integrated Cargo System (ICS) by Booz Allen Hamilton. The aim of the review was to understand the causes of the problems that occurred with the introduction of the Imports release in October 2005, and lessons learnt for future management and development of the ICS and other projects.

The report was received in June 2006 and Customs accepted all the recommendations, which included a range of reforms across program, project and change management.

The Customs Corporate Project Office project was initiated in June 2007, as part of a larger organisational change program. This project included:

  • design and establishment of common project management practices and methods – the Project Management Framework (PMF)
  • commencement of the Corporate Project Office support and quality assurance services
  • development of project management skilling and development program
  • establishing a program and project management governance framework
  • provide independent quality assurance over strategically important projects.

The PMF was also designed to be easily enhanced and Design elements easily added. The future framework, the Design and Project Management Framework, would ensure that Project Management and Design elements were addressed together in a single set of documented processes, templates and standards.

The key outcomes of the project were:

  • development, implementation and communication of a consistent methodology within the whole of Customs that reflected best practice within similar organisations
  • establishment of an independent structure for reporting to executive management that addressed the key issues arising from program stage reporting processes
  • provision of mentoring and assistance to Project Managers, including delivery training to 245 Customs Project Personnel and certification of more than 40 project managers in PRINCE2
  • establishment of a robust governance structure for program and project management within Customs

Custom’s has also been recognised by the Australian Institute of Management (ACT Division), winning the Organisation/Change Management category of the Project Management’s Achievement Award 2008, for the change management associated with the design, development and implementation of the Corporate Project Office.

Establishment of an administrative design capability (Design)

In addition to its PMF Customs is also implementing an administrative Design capability. This is in line with best practice in other administrations and addresses some of the gaps identified in Customs capability as part of the ICS implementation review. The Design capability will support and enhance the project capability to identify and deliver the right outcomes and a sensible experience for industry and the community.

The features of this capability will include:

  • a focus on developing a shared understanding of the intended outcome and impact on stakeholders when carrying out their dealings with Customs. Ensuring that designs balance outcome and user experience
  • use of multi-disciplinary project teams (combining the business, ICT, design, build, procurement, communication, engagement, testing, training and implementation skills as required) where the focus is on the outcome, irrespective of where team members come from
  • a commitment to co-design and engagement with industry (including intermediaries and software providers as appropriate) and other government agency stakeholders from the earliest possible time through to implementation
  • a continuous cycle of simulation, prototyping and testing of the ‘system in use’ with staff and industry from the earliest possible time

As part of the development and establishment of the Design capability, Customs is using the Design method across several ‘Proof of Concept’ projects. These projects are:

Enhanced Trade Solutions

Given its strategic importance to future management of Australia’s borders, the Enhanced Trade Solutions (ETS) program was nominated by Customs Executive to employ a design approach, and to work closely with Customs design capability.

ETS design focus has resulted in:

  • a clear, documented intent, which has been shared with other government agencies, industry partners, and within Customs
  • strong collaboration across Customs to build an end-to-end view of the business problem and proposed change outcomes. Collaborative activities have included facilitated design workshops and the use of cross-divisional governance/decisionmaking forums
  • an ‘outside-in’ approach to design and decision-making that takes into account client needs. ETS has compiled quantitative data about trade interactions between Customs and its clients, and has supplemented this by conducting face‑to‑face user research with key industry segments
  • early visualisation of key ETS initiatives,

with a focus on understanding how they would operate to balance positive government outcomes and good client experiences. This led to a wider understanding of the program, and the identification of a range of issues and opportunities from across the organisation.

ETS will continue to use a design approach, in order to ensure that its initiatives achieve sensible outcomes for the Government, industry and the Australian community.

Integrated Intelligence Environment

The Integrated Intelligence Environment Project will create a national collaborative environment for Customs staff and others who need to work with intelligence and targeting products. The project is delivering a centralised, secure means of making relevant and appropriate information and intelligence available across Customs through enhanced search, data management and analytic capacity, while protecting and accounting for activity.

The project also includes the development of nationally consistent tools and processes. This will progressively bring together multiple information pools, processes, tools and procedures. The project will use co‑design, user-centred design and prototyping principles to deliver outcomes over a number of stages. The first production release of the Integrated Intelligence Environment is scheduled for 2008.

Enhanced Passenger Assessment and Clearance Stage 1 program

Enhanced Passenger Assessment and Clearance (EPAC) Stage 1 adopted a co‑design approach from the outset. This first year of the two-year program has resulted in an overwhelmingly positive response from key stakeholders who have embraced a more user-centred and collaborative approach to designing, developing and implementing major change initiatives. This approach has other benefits: in an environment where there is a shortage of specialist expertise to support major change initiatives, the EPAC 1 Program has no difficulty in attracting resources.

Customs IT Report

Customs IT will continue to build on its major achievement of 2007–08 which was the successful transition to the new IT service arrangements.

Customs IT has brought Desktop Services, Local Area Network (LAN) Communications and the Service Desk in‑house and has put new contracted services in place including:

  • Voice Infrastructure services (phone and tele-conferencing systems) provided by Telstra Business Systems
  • Internet and Secure Gateway provided by Verizon
  • Data storage operations and data centre services provided by IBM Australia Limited (IBM) for Customs Main Processing systems
  • Applications Maintenance and Support (AMS) services provided through a contract panel of five service providers including CSC Australia Pty Ltd (CSC), EDS (Australia) Pty Ltd (EDS), Fujitsu Australia Limited, IBM, KAZ Group Pty Ltd

The IT Transition impacted every area in the Division and maintaining business continuity for all Customs clients during the change was a high priority. The transition was achieved with no significant interruptions to Customs business operations and no issues with external agencies or industry.

Another major focus for Customs IT has been records management, reporting capabilities and data assets. These have been progressed by:

  • the Records and Information Management System Project, which is responsible for the implementation of an integrated Electronic Document and Records Management System overseeing the replacement of the existing REGISTRY system. This provides Customs with a modern solution for the management of paper-based records
  • the Tracking Cross-Border Shipments Feasibility Study Project, which examined the use of the World Customs Organisation’s Unique Consignment Reference as a business process and Radio Frequency Identification as a cross‑border tracking technology, and their application to Customs and Australian industry
  • two reviews into Customs data analysis capability. One identified gaps in the current research and reporting capability of the Corporate Research Environment against business requirements and future needs. The other was a strategic review of Customs technical capability against an industry model and resulted in an Analytics and Reporting Roadmap. The reports made a number of recommendations to improve Customs emerging business intelligence, analysis and reporting capability
  • the Customs Business Information

Registry project achieving finalisation of tender evaluations, and the purchase and provision of a metadata repository. The project is providing Customs with a centralised store of information about data held by Customs business systems.

ICT Service Desk staffed by Customs personnel was launched by the CEO, Michael Carmody, and commenced operation on 17 December 2007

Revised Businessand Financial Planning Framework

In 2007–08 Customs revised its planning framework to better align with the financial cycle, to provide a stronger strategic focus and a more direct link to risk management. Strategic planning in Customs has been guided by an assessment of the efficiency and effectiveness of present strategies in managing the risks to business. Customs Annual Plan 2008–09 was developed to focus on the major outcomes delivered for the Australian community as reflected in the Customs mission. The Annual Plan draws on the information provided in the Business Effectiveness Summaries, the directions set out in the Strategic Statement 2007–2010 and Customs Strategic Outlook 2015.

As foreshadowed in the Annual Plan 2007–08, the strategic and business planning framework was refined to better align it with border risks and to better correlate with budgeting cycles. A new framework was created which translates strategic plans into business plans and individual performance agreements.

In developing a stronger strategic focus, Customs directed its attention to how it delivers its outcomes. It did this by focussing on major end-to-end processes at which border protection, facilitation, revenue and statistical responsibilities intersect, and on the major border risks it manages. Because these risks often cut across a range of operations, a whole-of-Customs view has been taken.

Customs major processes and border risks have been identified as:

Major processes:

  • Passenger and crew processing
  • Cargo processing

Border risks:

  • Maritime security
  • Illegal foreign fishing
  • Terrorism (people and goods)
  • Illicit drugs and precursors
  • Firearms and weapons
  • Intellectual Property Rights infringing goods
  • Other prohibited and restricted goods
  • Border risks in the port environment
  • Aviation security
  • Revenue
  • Tobacco smuggling
  • Anti-dumping

These are the focus of Customs Annual Plan 2008–09. It details in respect of each major process and border risk what Customs is committed to achieving, how it will go about it, improvement priorities and success measures for 2008–09.

Improve internal communications

In 2007–08 Customs focused on improving internal communication. A new section was established in Planning Branch and an Internal Audit review was conducted in early 2008 to examine Customs approach, resources and organisational structures.

The review highlighted the lack of a strategic communication capability. It recommended that Customs better link its communication activities in support of implementation of strategic and business plans and organisation priorities. It also recommended that Customs consider restructuring its communication functions with the intent of achieving greater integration of internal and external communication, better leveraging of existing communication resources and a more client-focused service to business areas. The review recommended Customs take an account-management approach to bring both internal and external communication together to ensure the delivery of a coordinated and holistic communication capability. Other recommendations included consideration of outsourcing or relocating certain non-core communication functions to ensure a more focused and streamlined communication structure.

Customs is taking a co-design approach to implementing the recommendations and established a Project Steering Committee and core design team. The implementation of the new structure and the improvement of on-line communications will be a major focus in 2008–09.


While all capacity-building initiatives are designed to build future capabilities, the following discussions and long-term projects were progressed during the 2007–08 financial year which will have a significant influence over the future direction of border management in South-East Asia:

  • participation in bilateral counter-terrorism talks with the Philippines and Indonesia, guiding future capacity-building efforts
  • building on previous work, delivering a range of activities to assist the Philippines with establishing the Coast Watch South project, aiming to improve maritime security and surveillance by coordinating civil and Defence assets, modelled on Australia’s Border Protection Command

Australian capacity - building efforts cultivate resultsThe official handover of dual trace detection equipment to the Royal Malaysian Police. L to R: Mr Kieran Miller, AFP Liaison Officer, Malaysia; Deputy Ambassador Mr Peter Doyle; SAC II Dato Jaluddin; ACS Overseas Capacity Building Coordinator Mr Martin Kaltoum

In August 2007, the Royal Malaysian Police seized four kilograms of methamphetamine, identified using trace detection equipment provided by Australian Customs as part of capacitybuilding efforts under the Australian Government Regional Counter-Terrorism Initiative. The provision of technology together with associated training constitutes one of several projects undertaken by Australian Customs with the purpose of increasing border security capabilities in the region.

During 2007–08, International Branch initiated an internal process of reviewing the direction of Customs capacity building efforts to ensure risks in the region are being addressed as priority and to ensure future efforts are appropriately focused on high value, sustainable projects.

In the Pacific in 2008–09, Customs will continue to support:

  • PNG through SGP, BSP and PACTS programs
  • Solomon Islands through its work under RAMSI
  • work with New Zealand to implement outcomes of the Oceanic Customs Organisations review
  • Customs administrations in the Asia‑Pacific region through the delivery of CIEMP and PCMP

As part of the revised International Strategy, Customs is reviewing its existing posts and their roles and responsibilities to ensure they align with the international strategy. The framework for managing posts will be strengthened with clear governance and reporting processes. Posts will be required to report through three-monthly forward work plans, complemented by monthly activity reports.

Country engagement plans that align with Customs International Strategy will be developed over the next year. Australian Customs is reviewing its engagement with multilateral organisations to ensure that it is focused, contemporary and contributes to Customs border protection and traveller and trade facilitation objectives.

Integrity in customs administrations will be a focus of future work for the B5 group, which will compare existing practices and share assessments on threats and responses adopted by each member.

Customs cooperation across the Tasman

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Closer Economic Relations trade agreement between the Governments of Australia and New Zealand, more commonly known as ANZCERTA. Signed in 1983, it is considered to be an innovative model for dismantling trade barriers and harmonising regulations between two economies.

In the spirit of the ANZCERTA agreement, Australian Customs works closely with New Zealand Customs, a key strategic partner in the region, whose administration is similarly reform oriented.

Senior officials from Australia and New Zealand customs administrations meet biannually for the High Level Steering Group (HLSG). The HLSG provides a forum for each customs administration to progress cooperative activities, discuss issues and to identify new collaborative activities. To date, discussions have focused on key areas such as:

  • streamlining Trans-Tasman trade
  • passenger facilitation initiatives
  • intelligence sharing and the enhancement of security-related matters; and
  • engagement with Pacific customs administrations

The forum provides excellent opportunities to trial concepts and improve practices, processes and benchmark activities with a customs administration that shares a similar border protection focus. In 2007–08 an HLSG initiative to facilitate a trans- Tasman staff exchange was realised. Each administration hosted a small delegation of customs officers, who visited a range of operational work areas. The exchange provided a unique learning experience and enhanced relationships.

Regular Ministerial and Chief Executive meetings are also held between the two countries. At the 2008 Customsto- Customs Ministerial meeting, the Ministers agreed that both Customs agencies will continue to work together to introduce automated border processing to help manage the forecast large increase in trans-Tasman air traffic as well as progressing work on mutual recognition arrangements of respective authorised economic operator programs in the trade stream.

The 2007–08 year also marked the second meeting of the Customs-Quarantine Trans-Tasman group, a forum that evolved from the HLSG to explore opportunities for cross-agency collaboration on issues of common trans-Tasman interest.