Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 2 2010 Contents DEFENCE IMAGERY AND GEOSPATIAL ORGANISATION
Then look no further than the example being set by
the Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation’s
(DIGO’s) Geospatial Analysis Centre (GAC) in
Bendigo, where a Business Productivity Review
conducted in 2009 is now resulting in 100 per cent
productivity gains – an outcome far exceeding
what was originally hoped for when the Review
was commissioned by the former Director of DIGO,
Mr Clive Lines.
The Review, led by Assistant Secretary Defence
GEOINT (ASDG), Mr Frank Colley, and conducted
by a team of internal staff, is leading the strategic
reform agenda in DIGO.
“The Defence Strategic Reform Program is not
just about saving money in existing budgets. It is
also about targeting true business reform. So we
were keen to be on the front foot of this reform
through innovation, efficiency and effectiveness,”
Mr Colley said.
“The success of the Review can be attributed to
strong local leadership and our own GAC staff,
who have seized ownership of the innovation and
“Of course there is no escaping the fact that
we are on an innovation journey here, and the
implementation of the Review’s recommendations
is a mammoth task that we are determined to
The Geospatial Analysis Centre’s journey is one
steeped in the traditions and culture of the Royal
Australian Survey Corps (RASvy), which was
disbanded in April 1996 amid the previous Defence
Commercial Support Program (CSP). In particular,
By Mark Fedden and Helen Owens
the Army Survey Regiment was responsible for the
Defence Mapping Program.
This Program was subsequently handed to the
Army Topographic Support Establishment (ATSE),
as the successful in-house tenderer under the CSP,
in what some may say was the pivotal decision
to keep the Defence mapping capability in-house
rather than outsourcing it to external providers.
This decision is certain to continue to reap great
benefits for Defence, as mapping and geospatial
technologies become more complex and costly as
Defence moves further into the digital age.
The ATSE subsequently became the Defence
Topographic Agency (DTA) which was ultimately
merged into the Defence Imagery and Geospatial
Organisation and became known as the GAC when
DIGO was established as an Agency in 2000.
In today’s environment, the Defence geospatial
and mapping capability relies very heavily on
complex information technology architectures and
platforms, as well as highly-developed software
systems. Even as early as 1996, the Defence
Mapping Program came with its fair share of
information technology change and challenges.
New mapping technologies, computerised 3D
graphics, and a host of digital-based mapping and
publishing programs directed the way the ATSE
conducted its business. But this was only a pre-
curser to the even more rapidly-developing modern
digital environment which DIGO now works.
“The GAC has evolved so significantly that it would
hardly be recognisable to those that were working
there in 1996 as part of the ASR,” Mr Colley said.
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“Not only has the GAC seen major changes in
technology, it has also moved away from the
traditional production of a range of specific paper-
based maps and is now focussed on foundation
data collection, digital mapping, and direct support
to military operations with fit-for-purpose products.
“Just like many other parts of Defence, ATSE, the
DTA and the GAC have lived through constant
change and an ever-increasing operational tempo
as more and more troops are being deployed
into theatre and an increased range of Defence
platforms and systems are acquired.”
The increased operational tempo has placed
demands on DIGO not previously experienced in
the digital production environment. During the past
three to five years there has been an insatiable
demand for spatial data, information and services
to support operations.
“Today, everything that flies, drives, floats or
walks, or is involved in command and control
or situational awareness, or delivers precision
weapons, demands accurate geospatial data,”
Mr Colley said.
It was this changing business requirement that
made it clear that reviewing the GAC’s business
was pivotal to ensure that DIGO could meet the
expectations of its customers.
The GAC Business Productivity Review was
conducted in a period of approximately eight
months and looked at all facets of the business in
The Review team of Mr Steve Unwin and Mr
Graeme Wastell also worked closely with the
GAC staff, DIGO’s production partners, supporting
units, and co-production partners to determine
how support to Defence could be enhanced and
The Review was finalised in April 2009 and made
143 recommendations centred around six business
pillars: governance, people, organisational
structure, business practices and processes,
relationships, and systems.
“It became clear after the Review was completed
that the GAC was going to be able to at least
double its productivity level with no increase to
current resource levels,” Mr Colley said.
“And this was the result that the DIGO Executive
Team was hoping for.”
as Project Manager, and comprising Bob Rogister
and Dik Brierley as Assistant Project Managers, set
the Review implementation in motion.
“The GRIP is now working hard to implement the
recommendations of the Review and we expect
that we can demonstrate, in an audit by the
Defence auditors, that a 100 per cent productivity
increase will be achieved by 30 June 2010. This is
an outstanding result,” Mr Colley said.
In layman’s terms, the productivity gains at the
GAC revolve around two key areas. The first
is revising GAC structures and workflow to
maximise the production workforce and their
production hours. Secondly, the GAC is moving
away from producing paper maps to managing
“Today, everything that flies, drives, floats or walks, or is
involved in command and control or situational awareness,
or delivers precision weapons, demands accurate geospatial
- Assistant Secretary Defence Geospatial Intelligence Frank Colley
LeFT: The Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation’s Geospatial Analysis Centre at Bendigo. MIDDLe: Project Manager GAC Review Implementation Project Mark Fedden.
RIGHT: Assistant Secretary Defence Geospatial Intelligence Frank Colley.
“Much of the credit goes to the GAC workforce,
who understand the need for change and have
developed most of the productivity enhancements
themselves. But part of the credit also goes to
the DIGO Integrated Capability Enterprise Project
(Project DICE) which laid the foundations to enable
us to achieve these amazing productivity gains.”
Project DICE saw the GAC move into a brand
new building and supplied the infrastructure
and connectivity to meet the ever-increasing
demands of DIGO users and customers. DICE also
established seamless integration between DIGO’s
Canberra and Bendigo sites.
“Innovation and business change can only be
successful if the members of that business own
the change,” Mr Colley said.
“In Bendigo we are evolving all aspects of our
business, and cultural change is a critical success
factor, particularly in a business unit that has a
long history and a strong corporate culture.
“This innovation will provide the Defence with
a significantly enhanced capability at no extra
cost. It will also reduce operating costs, providing
savings which can be reinvested into capability.
“And I have been lucky to be involved in seeing
innovation and hard work pay off,” Mr Colley said.
Ever wondered how your individual work area could make a significant contribution
to the Defence Strategic Reform Program (SRP)? Ever thought that business
transformation and innovation were ideals and rhetoric rather than a reality in Defence?
The recommendations of the Review were
approved by the DIGO Executive in May 2009.
Immediately following the ratification of the
recommendations, an implementation team was
tasked with orchestrating the findings of the
Review. The team, known as the GAC Review
Implementation Project (GRIP), led by Mark Fedden
and disseminating data that is fit for purpose
and printing on demand rather than to shelf.
Additional gains will be made through innovative
dissemination processes through a wider network
via web-based services.
“The innovation that we are seeing through this
Review is something that I am proud to be a part
of,” Mr Fedden said.
by the digital age
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