Case study – Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre

Digital 'People'


National Archives Awards for Digital Excellence commendation 2017

The ‘People’ template workspace is an end to end digital personnel, security and case file that enables a secure, person centric view of information across a range of business process including recruitment, vetting, onboarding, payroll, performance management and internal investigations.

It is an example of a motivated business unit committing to change and working together with information management professionals to implement a fully digital solution.

Agency overview

AUSTRAC accepting their commendations award.
AUSTRAC accepting their commendations award.

AUSTRAC is Australia's financial intelligence agency with regulatory responsibility for anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing. We identify threats and criminal abuse of the financial system, and act to protect Australia's economy.

We also work in partnership with industry and government agencies in Australia and overseas to:

  • help keep Australia safe from financial and other serious crime
  • build and maintain trust in Australia's financial system as part of the global community.

AUSTRAC is a medium agency with approximately 350 staff based in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane, and is opening an office in Perth. AUSTRAC also has staff out posted in law enforcement partner agencies across the country as well as an international presence in Indonesia.


At the start of 2016, AUSTRAC’s People and Integrity Branch was operating in an almost entirely paper-based environment. To support its digital transition journey, the business units involved in HR, recruitment, payroll and vetting processes partnered with the Information Management team to explore ways to transition to digital.

Before the project, sharing personal information such as personnel and physical security files and medical certificates between geographical locations was manual, intensive, slow, inefficient and unsecure. AUSTRAC could only transfer physical files between other agencies in printed form and had to convert incoming digital files to paper. Staff were limited in their ability to adopt flexible work practices.

Project objectives

This initiative formed part of the agency’s red-tape reduction program and the AUSTRAC Digital Strategy. Key success criteria were:

  • maximise the value of information captured regarding employees, contractors and consultants across a range of business processes that could only be accessed in physical files and by interrogating a range disparate business systems and spreadsheets
  • create a more efficient and secure mechanism for employees to share their personal information with their supervisors, managers, HR and vetting
  • reduce the administrative overheads of operating in a paper-based environment such as storage costs, printing expenses, filing and postage.

Project execution

The Information Architect and representatives from the teams worked together to co-design a solution by:

  • understanding user needs from within the People and Integrity teams as well as employees and contractors
  • identifying duplication across processes
  • sourcing and using key metadata from disparate business systems including finance, payroll and procurement to enable matching and support future integration options
  • establishing a trusted information security framework
  • education and communication to support the transition
  • empowering the teams to create and administer the workspaces themselves
  • templated application of disposal classes to individual folders
  • using existing technology and business as usual resources.

A pilot was initiated across vetting process which was used to inform the final design and address any security concerns.

Project outcomes

The People workspace has delivered an improved customer experience, significant time savings and a more efficient working environment for the HR and Vetting teams.

  • The team members no longer spend hours printing to file and there is no longer a requirement to engage temporary staff to deal with backlogs of filing.
  • Personnel information is no longer siloed and inaccessible to others while a file is in use or locked in a file store. If something was required from the filing backlog it could take an hour to retrieve it, whereas the information is now available within seconds.
  • Folder creation for each staff member is a single activity and a number of folders with individual security and records classifications are created automatically on filling out the electronic form, reducing the average turnaround time from 3 days to 5 minutes.
  • Access to personal information is fully auditable, reportable and transparent with defined role-based access.

Paper-based forms have become a relic of the past and have been replaced by online templates supported by digital workflows that can be submitted from any geographical location. Information can be made available immediately to each of the relevant business units, managers or supervisors.

One of the unique characteristics of this solution is the ability to link personnel information to internal investigations in a secure and governed manner, without the need for duplication across multiple files and locations. There is now a centralised view of AUSTRAC personnel, irrespective of their employment conditions.

Transitioning the processes has supported other agency priorities including the a revised flexible working policy and the deployment of desktop mobility solutions. Prior to implementing this it would have been virtually impossible for the People and Integrity team to adopt any of these initiatives within their respective business areas.

Project impact

The People and Integrity Unit at AUSTRAC have transitioned from being almost entirely paper-based to 95% digital. The initial reluctance, and indeed a lack of confidence, to use an online system quickly turned to one of strong advocacy as the outcomes and subsequent benefits were realised. The business unit now view themselves as proponents for showcasing the benefits of digital workflows and as a result the entire agency reaps the benefits.

The innovative and collaborative approach is becoming the norm in AUSTRAC, with each and every business unit looking to identify a digital information management solution to assist with dealing with limited resources. This transformation has without question improved user experiences and built a culture that values digital information.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2018