Collaboration with other national cultural institutions
The Museum acknowledges that the sharing of knowledge, expertise and resources on common services wherever possible with other national cultural institutions is important to maintain and improve standards of service. The Corporate Management Forum, a regular meeting of national cultural institutions based in Canberra, continued to meet during the year. Some of the key issues discussed by the forum during the year included:
- the accrual reform process, Commonwealth budgetary arrangements, depreciation policies and the financial implications of the Review of Cultural Agencies -Encouraging Best Practice, financial reporting and general financial issues
- the impact on insurance in the 'post-September 11' environment, knowledge management, digitisation, the transfer of employee entitlements across agencies, the Cultural Management Development Program and the Advanced Workplace Skills program
- the development of educational programs
- forecasting of exhibitions and public programs over the next five years.
Consulting and contracting services
The Museum is committed to achieving the best value for money in its procurement practices including contracted services for internal audit, information technology hardware and support, media, transactional banking, cleaning, catering, security and exhibition design. Purchasing practices and procedures are consistent with the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines and are also in accordance with the National Museum of Australia Act 1980 and better practice principles. The National Museum's Procurement Guidelines are reviewed annually to ensure consistency with Commonwealth policy.
The total number of consultancy services provided to the Museum in the period 2002-2003 was 94 and the total expenditure on consultancy contracts during the year was $1.115 million. Major services involved program evaluation, market research, information and communication technologies and financial services.
Agency-wide initiatives were undertaken during the year to strengthen the Museum's performance-based maintenance regimes. The most significant of these was the development and introduction of a new fixed-price facilities maintenance contract which shares part of the risk with the maintenance contractor as well as allowing the Museum greater certainty about the cost base for maintenance and repairs.
Procedures and systems were also revised for the management of major contracts for all building maintenance and repairs, cleaning, security and related services such as lease management and fleet management.
As part of its proactive focus towards facilities management, the Museum started a review of its computerised maintenance management system to provide staff with a more useable and flexible maintenance tool. The coverage of the system will be expanded in 2003-2004 to incorporate the plant and equipment at the Mitchell sites into the facilities management contract and the 25-year lifecycle asset management report. Additionally, the building management system was modified to better track environmental conditions within exhibition areas.
Major facilities management projects commenced or completed during the year included:
the addition of a new 140-square-metre storage area to the existing loading dock three area at the Acton site to provide a storage area for retail operations and for the catering contractor's equipment, and enable more efficient use of space within the Museum. The space has also been fitted with wash down bays to reduce water waste
lease of the former Hospice (now called the Annex) following lengthy negotiations and consultations with the National Capital Authority and the Australian Heritage Commission. Planning for the base building refurbishment and fitout commenced in the second half of the year with the preparation of a conservation plan, completed by Eric Martin and Associates, and the engagement of a construction management team. The refurbishment works will commence in the first half of 2003-2004 and Museum staff currently working from leased premises in Braddon are expected to move to the Annex in March 2004. The Annex will also be the principal location of the Museum's Library, improving public access
relocation of the PS Enterprise to the Acton Peninsula from the Kingston foreshore owing to the redevelopment occurring on that site. New mooring facilities were required to ensure safe mooring in all types of weather
the establishment of an exhibition maintenance regime together with a specialised exhibition lighting maintenance program.
In response to visitor feedback about acoustic levels in the Hall, an acoustic consultant specialising in public building acoustics was engaged. The report has been received and recommendations will be implemented next year.
Two of the three remaining building defects were rectified during the year with only minor work outstanding on the third. This is expected to be completed by August 2003.
Revision of the National Museum's asset management plan for fixed plant and equipment assets commenced during the year to match the new facilities maintenance costing for maintenance. It is expected that the new plan will be implemented in 2003-2004 with the Mitchell sites incorporated into the 25-year maintenance and lifecycle plan. Reassessment of the lifecycle plan will also provide a more detailed cost plan over the next five-year period.
Asset management is monitored through the Council's Audit and Finance Committee.
As a result of heightened concerns about security in Australia over the past year, security was reviewed and upgraded at the Acton site and the main storage facilities at Mitchell, providing Acton security officers with improved control of offsite areas.
Further reviews of security at all Museum sites will be undertaken in 2003-2004 to determine the scope of works required to ensure all the Museum's facilities operate to the required high standard of security.
There was an increase in VIP visits to the Museum compared to the previous year, with the Museum providing specialised security for VIP parties on 90 occasions. All these visits were coordinated with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) Protective Security Intelligence Unit. The Museum also assisted the AFP and the Attorney-General's Protective Security Coordination Centre by providing an operating venue in which they could conduct a number of their training courses.
The Museum values highly the performance and capability of its people. It is committed to attracting, developing and retaining high-quality staff commensurate with a public museum of national and international standing.
A significant highlight during the year was the successful negotiation of the National Museum of Australia (Productivity and Performance) Workplace Agreement 2002-2005. This new, three-year certified agreement represents the Museum's response to the challenging environment in which it operates and is an outstanding result from a highly consultative, inclusive and cooperative negotiation. It builds on the sound foundation of employment conditions contained in the previous certified agreement and introduces several key enhancements.
The agreement will deliver a 12 per cent pay increase over three years and is designed to support ongoing change during a period of consolidation and new challenges. The hard work done in negotiating the agreement and its predecessor is reaping rewards in assisting continuing organisational performance improvement and delivering real productivity improvement and will assist the Museum in maintaining the high quality workforce it requires.
The certified agreement also demonstrates the commitment of Museum staff to maximising the value for taxpayers' money through a cooperative approach to productivity improvement. The agreement to performance targets aligned to the 2002-2003 Budget funding decision and commitment to a range of cost efficiencies and operational initiatives will help focus the Museum's overall performance. This will be supported by a new framework for individual performance management.
Productivity gains in the agreement flow from initiatives in four main areas:
organisational performance targets to provide a focus for staff and help the Museum deliver the results expected of a world-class cultural institution
an enhanced performance management framework to better integrate performance management with the Museum's strong business and project planning focus
operational and cost savings initiatives, including office and workplace accommodation changes, improvements to visitor host rostering, greater use of technology, and a reduction in the accrual of unused personal leave
improved operational flexibility to improve the capacity for organisational change, including less prescriptive consultation arrangements, clearer dispute resolution arrangements, more effective excess staff provisions and more flexible recruitment arrangements.
This positive outcome is the result of a great deal of hard work by the Museum's Certified Agreement Working Group. As was the case with the previous certified agreement, the new one was endorsed by an overwhelming majority of staff. The 'yes' vote was 96.6 per cent of the 178 votes counted, representing approval by 77 per cent of eligible staff.
On a recent visit to your Museum I inadvertently left my camera behind, the camera arrived safe and sound about 15 minutes after I arrived at my home! Staff such as this are a valuable resource and they are part of the reason that people visit a second time.May 2003 visitor