The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) in Australia is undergoing a major transformation. In July 2015, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) was integrated with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Australian Border Force (ABF) was established.
The integration brought together two large and complex departments with their own systems and processes. OpenGov spoke with Randall Brugeaud, Chief Information Officer, DIBP at the Australia OpenGov Leadership Forum about the integration process and how technology is supporting the organisation’s transformation.
The numbers provide an idea of the massive scale of their operations. In 2015, DIBP processed 40 million international air and sea travellers and handled over 35 million air cargo consignments. The department also issued more than 7 million temporary visas and supported 13,750 humanitarian places.
DIBP is moving to a more connected, automated environment, supported by a more mobile, multi-disciplinary workforce, Mr Brugeaud said. In his presentation he noted that about 14% of DIBP’s workforce is involved in technology delivery and around 60% of all future project activity requires some form of technology enablement.
Below is a summary of an interview with Mr Brugeaud following his presentation at the OpenGov Forum. He details their current focus areas for technology in the DIBP and ABF.
What are your current priorities?
Our priorities span three streams; Business as Usual (BAU), Integration and Transformation. Our BAU stream is focused on running production operations, our integration stream is focused on bringing together the two former organisations, and our transformation stream is focused on fundamentally performing the way we do business.
Our clear priority is to make sure that our border and pre-border systems continue to operate reliably. Our production systems are priority number one.
Integration is about simplifying and streamlining our technology environment. This includes our major contracts, applications and technical infrastructure.
Reform is about fundamentally changing the way we do business. It has a whole range of initiatives within it. At its core is bringing our information together; consolidating, organising and presenting information in such a way that it is useful to the people and systems that need to make decisions or recommendations, often in real time.
We also have a range of automation initiatives, including a large programme of work to automate traveller border clearance. This builds on some of our existing capabilities, but also leverages the most contemporary technologies available today.
An increased reliance on technology means that the resilience of our systems is an increasingly critical priority. Without manual processing alternatives, we simply can’t afford to have our systems fail. This includes ensuring that our systems are protected from internal and external attacks.
Have you encountered challenges in implementing new technologies, while dealing with legacy architecture?
It’s all about balance. We need to ensure that our current platforms remain healthy, but also create enough space to integrate and transform them.
In order to support the expected level of technology demand, we need to deliver three times faster than we do today. Our legacy systems and processes cannot scale to this level, so we need to significantly change the way we work. We’ve spent quite a bit of time refining our technology delivery operating model. We’ve also invested quite heavily in agile delivery methods.
As an enterprise, we’re transforming the way we do business, so we’re putting in place the systems that will support our operations well into the future.
Are you using on-premise solutions or the cloud?
We’re using a combination of both, but it’s predominantly on-premise due to the security requirements of our environment. We have some of our corporate and digital services sitting in the cloud, but I expect our use of cloud to increase in the future.
Can you tell us more about the progress made in the integration process?
We have integrated our finance and HR systems and a number of our major contracts, but many of our large enterprise processing systems are still hosted on former Customs and Immigration systems.
To integrate our data holdings, we’re building a connected information environment. This will bring information from our legacy systems together, but the consolidation activity for our many hundreds of applications will take quite some time.
We are also making good progress in bringing together our end-user computing environment. Our new managed operating environment is called Bordernet. It is based on Windows 10 and includes Microsoft Office 2016 and associated collaboration and virtualisation tools.
We still have quite a way to go, but it’s going to an exciting journey. There will be lots of challenges along the way, but the opportunity to be involved in such a significant and strategically important transformation is what motivates me each and every day.