Case Study – Reserve Bank of Australia
Case study for “One Click” declarations
An end-to end digital solution manages and files completed 'declarations of material interest' using 'One Click'. This uses existing technology to create a connector between the TRIM records management system and SharePoint via linked metadata. Benefits include more efficient document handling processes, decreased risk of personal information being exposed and paper usage.
The Reserve of Australia (the Bank) is Australia's central bank and derives its functions and powers from the Reserve Bank Act 1959. Its duty is to contribute to the stability of the currency, full employment, and the economic prosperity and welfare of the Australian people. It does this by setting the cash rate, working to maintain a strong financial system and efficient payments system, and issuing the nation's banknotes. The Bank provides certain banking services as required to the Australian Government and its agencies, and a number of overseas central banks and official institutions. Additionally, it manages Australia's gold and foreign exchange reserves.
The Bank's Head Office is located in Sydney with branch and representative offices around Australia and overseas. The Information Management Policy supports the Bank's workforce to create, store and use information in a predominately digital environment, equipping it for the Government's Digital Transition Policy.
Changes to reporting requirements under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA) prompted a change in how declarations of material personal interest were collected, stored and maintained across the Bank. From 1 July 2014, Federal agencies were required to collect and maintain a comprehensive set of records relating to potential conflicts of interest of their staff.
The Bank considered whether it would comply with reporting requirements by using a traditional paper print-and-submit system or investigate the possibility of going digital.
The focus of 'One Click' was on creating an end-to-end digital solution for managing 'the declarations of material interest'.
A small project team was formed to see what could be achieved in the digital environment using existing resources. It assessed the capability of paper versus a digital solution with regard to security, availability, auditing and ability to interrogate the data collected. The project team was comprised of Information Management and Information Technology specialists with each member having a defined responsibility.
The team met daily in a Scrum meeting where discussion concentrated on technical progress. The team's focus was on creating an end-to-end digital solution.
Innovative use of technology
SharePoint and TRIM are both established technologies at the Bank. Specialists in these areas were brought together to design the solution. Existing technology was used to create a customised TRIM connector to integrate with a SharePoint interface.
Digital information management
The 'One Click' leverages existing digital information about individual staff members to match their declaration to the correct filing location in TRIM. Metadata collected from SharePoint is encoded in the PDF file name and used by the TRIM connector to match with metadata stored in TRIM. The declaration is born, reviewed and stored digitally.
The declaration form is presented to staff who are logged securely into SharePoint. The completed form is then rendered as a PDF file and saved to a secure drive, while all trace of the transaction is erased from SharePoint, reducing exposure of personal information. The custom TRIM connector then detects the file, and saves it to TRIM in the correct folder with correct titling and access controls.
There is also a mechanism for alerting reviewers of forms requiring review. This enables suspected conflicts of interest to be assessed without the need to read all individual submissions, and this is consistent with the requirement to maintain individual privacy.
The communications plan involved liaison with senior stakeholders responsible for meeting the Bank's compliance obligations as well as for reviewing declarations. Compliance obligations were communicated to staff via multiple channels, for example, a dedicated Intranet page.
Over 300 declarations were filed in the first round of submissions. With the reduction in paper comes a reduction in handling cost – the paper no longer needs to be handled, transported, printed and re-printed. The paper no longer needs to be sorted, filed and stored on file for 75 years.
The 'One Click' submission process takes approximately 1 second per form between submission and filing compared with a minimum of 50 hours / 300 forms for the corresponding steps to be performed manually. Furthermore, reviewing managers are notified immediately that they have a document to review.
The efficiency of 'One Click' contrasts with the submission of a paper form that requires handling by multiple staff. In the paper model, the declarant prints the form, hands it to their manager or delegate and from there to the reviewing manager before the form is then sent to records for filing and storage.
In a paper submission process, each step carries additional risk of exposure of personal information. By eliminating additional handling, the 'One Click' solution ensures that declarations are only viewed by the declarant and the reviewing manager.
Once collected into TRIM, submissions may be interrogated for key words using TRIM's powerful document content search functionality. Suspected conflicts of interest may be assessed without the need to read all individual submissions, and is consistent with the requirement to maintain individual privacy. Where declarations are required to be examined, the digital 'One Click' solution supports a sophisticated array of diagnostics to assess the nature and extent of any conflicts.
The new declaration process was so well received and accepted that the Bank is now looking to replicate the process for several other declarations and forms.The Bank's 'One Click' solution has been shared with the Federal Agencies Knowledge Management Group (FAKM), and other agencies are now seeking to replicate this success. Sharing the Bank's solution across other Federal Government agencies promotes consistency and supports the aims of the Digital Transition Policy.