Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 3 2010 Contents 38 www.defence.gov.au/defencemagazine
ThE LAST wORD
DEFENCE MATERIEL ORGANISATION
The demand for deep reform under the smart sustainment stream of the
Strategic Reform Program has quickly become a reality for the team at
Surveillance and Response Group (Air Force) and the Over The Horizon
Radar Systems Program Office (OTHRSPO) in Adelaide.
reforms at DMO
Based at RAAF Edinburgh, the OTHRSPO
is responsible for through-life support and
acquisition/project work for all high frequency
(HF) radar systems operated by the ADF. The
three-radar network provides critical wide area
surveillance coverage of the northern Australian
sea and air approaches to Australia.
Officer Commanding of OTHRSPO, Group Captain
(GPCAPT) Rob Amos said that the initial reform
scoping exercises had been conducted in line with
the capability-led, people-focussed approach of the
Air Force Improvement program.
“This meant getting everyone involved—from the
senior decision-makers through to the people with
the day-to-day responsibility for delivering support
services,” GPCAPT Rob Amos said
“We had been to pull in as many different views as
we could, drawing on people’s experience and gut-
feel initially, but also conducting more detailed and
technical analysis as part of the ongoing review
and reform process.
“All of those different perspectives are being
captured. Our customer has a strong voice, key
stakeholders such as the DSTO are represented,
and our suppliers are walking in step with us.
“It is certainly a busy time, as identifying and
making improvements has to happen in tandem
with the everyday business for the team.”
Director General Surveillance and Control
Air Commodore (AIRCDRE) Steve Sheedy
acknowledged the importance of the partnership
between Defence Materiel Ogranisation (DMO)
personnel and the Air Force as a customer.
“To succeed this needs to be a joint initiative
all the way – and from the outset we have both
the Air Force Improvement team and the DMO’s
Sustainment Reinvestment Office working with our
people on these reforms,” AIRCDRE Sheedy said.
“Stakeholder buy-in has been very strong. Our
contractors are actively engaged in the opportunity
identification phase and key stakeholders
like DSTO are represented on our Wide Area
Surveillance Reform Board.”
Importantly, AIRCDRE Sheedy said that scoping
work had not focused solely on cost reduction
activities. He said that initiatives aimed at
improving the operational efficiency of the Air
Force’s 41 Wing units were being pursued in
tandem with in-service support enhancements
delivered by the DMO.
GPCAPT Amos said that by working together, the
team had identified about 15 significant initiatives
that are currently being assessed in more detail in
terms of potential cost reductions.
“But there are also a number of other improvement
initiatives in the mix and more are likely to be
proposed as the reform process gains momentum,”
GPCAPT Amos said.
“This fits with the overall goals of the Strategic
Reform Program – to realise cost rductions but also
to implement genuine improvements in the delivery
An added dimension to the challenge is that wide
area surveillance was identified by Government as
a priority industry capability in the Defence White
The reform work has been running in earnest since
October 2009, and has the potential to make an
important contribution to the Smart Sustainment
savings target for Air Force and the DMO.
Everyone involved recognises there is a long way
to go, but the right building blocks are in place and
the right people are on board to get the job done.
The Head of Acquisition
and Reform Division in
DMO recently spoke to the
Aerospace Systems Division’s
senior leadership team
about the opportunities and
challenges of the Strategic
Reform Program (SRP).
Michelle also answered
the following questions for
You spoke in some detail about
personal behaviours. Why
is that so important in a big,
program like SRP?
It is my firm belief that whether we succeed
or not will depend on individual behaviour.
To achieve enduring reform, we need every
individual involved in using, maintaining or
managing military equipment to be looking
for new and better ways of doing business. In
DMO and I think across Defence as well, past
reform efforts have shown that improvements
will only be sustained in the long-term if they
result in real changes in individual behaviour
at all levels in the organisation.
There is certainly scope for ongoing improvement.
That was the view of the Kinnaird and Mortimer
reviews, it was the view of the Pappas audit team
and it’s the Government’s view. From discussions to
date, I think I’m on safe ground to say that it is also
industry’s view. The challenge now for the DMO,
Defence and industry is to achieve reform – not
just acknowledge the need for it or talk about it.
When people ask “what we need from leaders
across DMO”, my response is all about modelling
and encouraging the right behaviours in the
workplace. Our strong message within DMO has
been that this is a reform program in which cost
reductions are just one of the three measures of
success. This is not just a savings program where
reform would be nice if we could get it.
In the case of the Smart Sustainment program,
which includes all the Capability Managers and
represents the central DMO financial contribution
to SRP, the expected cost reductions have already
been taken out of the 10-year view of Defence’s
budget. That is, we are already budgeting to
operate without those funds. To ensure that we
continue to support a highly-efficient, world-class
defence force, we need to pursue efficiency-based
improvements and adapt to new and smarter
ways of doing business and making decisions.
Essentially, we need a shift to a culture that is
agile and responsive to what the customer needs,
and that is affordable in the long-term.
How is your central program office
connecting with people at all levels
across DMO’s divisional structure?
We have established a small central sustainment
reinvestment office (SRO) to play a coordination
and program management role. Connected to that
office are individual directors of reform from each
of the DMO operating divisions. These people
still belong to and report to their division head but
are in effect dual-hatted and closely linked to the
SRO. This group has a lot of thankless tasks, but
they are an important part of the DMO approach
One of the continuing demands on the SRO will be
to provide a complete toolkit in support of reform
and information on what is actually happening at
the coalface. One example is training our people.
We have had some success to date with our Lean
level one and level two training courses, but the
training need for DMO and capability manager
personnel extends beyond Lean, and so we need
to do more work in this area. Another example
is connecting the dots in relation to support for
SPOs (systems project offices) engaging directly
in reform activity. Whether it be sharing lessons
learned, or support with contracting templates,
this information should either be available from
the SRO or through the SRO. Equally, we need to
be clear that some people’s contribution might not
be through a direct Smart Sustainment initiative.
It might be one of the enabling improvements
through Mortimer reforms, contracting reform or
our standardisation efforts that are being assisted
by people across DMO in the various communities
of practice (COPs).
Standardisation is important to the overall
reform effort because it offers us opportunities
to become a more consistent performer for our
Defence customer and for Government, to deal
with our supply chain more efficiently, to reduce
re-work and to enhance our training programs.
Standardisation will strip out processes that hinder
us, and invest in processes that help us.
How confident are you that the SRP
program will succeed?
I think we can be very confident. The planning
work is largely done, now for the real test of
implementation. It will depend on all of us doing
our bit – in DMO, Defence and in industry. We
don’t plan to fail, and we don’t like to lose. We
have smart and dedicated people in the DMO,
Defence, and in industry. We have it in us to
achieve the SRP goals.
We have made a good start, but there is a long
way to go. The readiness survey we conducted
across DMO in November last year certainly told
us that. Some of our early pilot initiatives have
been very promising. This is not easy work, but it is
vitally important. In the end, it always comes back
to the issue of behaviour. Reform won’t happen
by accident and every time I do a quick ‘heads up’
to see if we are getting anywhere, I keep being
reminded of the importance of leadership and
behaviour – at all levels in the organisation.
How have you communicating with
your people up to now?
We have done a lot of presentations and used
most of the traditional methods in DMO – for
example the DMO Bulletin, and the SRP is part of
each of the CEO’s business plan review sessions.
We are also giving presentations at divisional
levels and to designated communities within
DMO like finance, HR, procurement etc. We
have incorporated sessions on reform into our
leadership programs and we are adapting our
business acumen course.
Our websites have some really useful information
– not just about the background to reform but
about training available for our people and
supporting toolkits for people who are already
working in a reform program. And just recently,
I have started to provide a fortnightly electronic
update that goes from my office to each division
head, for them to distribute within their own
commands. For people outside of DMO, these are
available on our intranet site.
Is your approach to communications
changing as you shift from planning
We know that we have to increasingly focus our
communications in three areas: getting input
from our people, and from industry; sharing
the experiences and lessons from early reform
activities; and challenging all of our people to look
at how reform opportunities can be maximised by
applying them across branches, across divisions or
even across DMO.
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