The Immigration Department is pressing on with a slate of digital transformations changing how people travel as other agencies struggle to adopt new technologies.
As it grows less visible to travellers using Australian airports, the department is coupling its adoption of digital programs with efforts to transform its business, its technology boss says.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s Chief Information Officer Randall Brugeaud told Canberra’s Trans-Tasman Business Circle briefing on Thursday that agency bosses were driving its digital uptake.
Digital disruption and innovation needed to be driven by the executive to succeed, Mr Brugeaud said.
“Technology has actually been discussed at our executive table,” he said.
The Immigration Department, growing between 4-6 per cent yearly across its business, was moving staff away from duties that could be automated at customs as 80 per cent of departing travellers over the Christmas period were processed using automation.
Mr Brugeaud said in some cases, the department would become “virtually invisible” to travellers and businesses not breaking the law.
Immigration is shifting towards digital technology, involving changes to infrastructure as well as web-site building, as other agencies grapple with IT wrecks.
Centrelink is embroiled in the “robo-debt” debacle, which uses an automated system to match information held by the agency and the Australian Taxation Office to calculate overpayments.
The ATO is scrambling desperately to save this year’s tax return program from the fall-out of its disastrous pre-Christmas online meltdown, abandoning much of its IT program for this year.
Immigration’s massive technological shift brought cultural changes, but not all staff had adapted.
“Culturally, it’s a real challenge to get people to behave in a different way,” Mr Brugeaud said.
Staff who had long carried out one function may have been asked to become “multidisciplinary”.
“That’s a pretty tough thing to deal with,” he said, adding it was “not for everybody”.
The department used “evangelists” for the new technologies to help staff adapt to changes, Mr Brugeaud said.
Other new technologies were being tested, including Citizenship Exemplar, an appointment booking service used for 30 per cent of reschedulings, and eBorderforce, allowing department staff to target their attention better in examining cargo.
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