A Blueprint for Reform of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service

Press release from the Hon Jason Clare MP, Minister for Home Affairs, Minister for Justice, Minister for Defence Materiel

Today the Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Justice Jason Clare released the first report of the Customs Reform Board and a Blueprint for Reform of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.

In December last year Minister Clare said that Customs needed major structural and cultural reform. He established a Customs Reform Board to provide advice and recommendations about further action needed and to oversight the implementation of these reforms.

The board is made up of three distinguished Australians:

  • The Honourable James Wood AO QC;
  • Mr Ken Moroney AO APM; and
  • Mr David Mortimer AO.

The Board has met formally with the Minister six times throughout the development of its first report. The board report is very clear:
“… the board recognises the need for Service-wide reform if the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service is to keep pace with a rapidly evolving border environment, while meeting Government and community expectations around border management and protection. Meeting this challenge will require strong, effective and professional leadership at all levels and a commitment to ongoing staff engagement and effective change management.”

Specific challenges identified in the Board’s report include:

  • The exponential increase in the volume of people and cargo crossing over the border in the coming years. The number of passengers flying in and out of Australia is expected to increase by about eight million in the next five years and air cargo is expected to more than triple, from 29 million consignments now to almost 95 million in 2017;
  • The increasing speed and complexity of new supply chains and travel routes; and
  • The increasing threat of serious, organised criminals attempting to penetrate the border and their ongoing efforts to infiltrate our border agencies and corrupt our officers.

To meet these challenges the Blueprint for Reform outlines a range of measures which can be divided into three tracks: integrity, people and operating model and modernisation. These measures include:
1. To strengthen its integrity Customs will:

  • establish a Special Integrity Adviser. This role will manage the investigation of complex and serious cases of misconduct, including those undertaken jointly with ACLEI;
  • institute fixed tenure periods for staff to mitigate the risk of corruption;
  • tighten up policy and practices around secondary employment;
  • enhance organisation suitability checking processes to better detect and deal with officers with criminal associations;
  • implement a new professional standards practice model. Customs will also implement new and rigorous performance and management reporting arrangements for the professional standards function, and capability standards and qualifications for certain roles;
  • toughen its policy on use of personal mobile devices across all sensitive operational areas; and
  • introduce a requirement for anti-corruption impact assessment statements when introducing any major business changes to help us identify and mitigate risk at an early stage.

2. To strengthen its people and operating model Customs will:

  • develop a new workforce model to provide a new career system that offers attractive and rewarding job choices. Career streams will be built around four specific people capabilities; trade and customs; a border force focused on delivering border protection; intelligence; and support services; and
  • establish a strategic border command, supported by regional commands. The strategic border command will control the border through highly focussed and effective intervention based on advanced intelligence. Regional commands will be predominantly staffed by Border Force officers who will be deployed on a national, regional and district basis;
  • build a strategic partnership with the AFP. As a first step, these agencies will trial a new model for undertaking border crime investigations. This new model will combine the skills, intelligence and investigative resources of the Customs and the AFP to disrupt criminals and prosecute breaches of Australia’s border;
  • enhance patrols of the waterfront (wharves, harbours) and airports (airside, tarmac, baggage areas) around the country;
  • increase remote area patrols. This includes a rapid response capability to quickly counter new threats anywhere along our coastline;
  • develop a secondment and exchange program that will provide opportunities to embed its officers with, and host other officers from, partners in government and industry; and
  • develop a standardised approach to training across the agency that develops a breadth of capability. That includes structured pathways for learning that stretch from induction through to active career and continuous development to ensure officers have the right skills to do their job.

3. As part of its plan for modernisation Customs will:

  • work with industry to provide trusted and compliant traders with expedited border clearance where they have strong security and integrity practices. Customs will also increase its work ahead of the border, focusing on Mutual Recognition Agreements with trading partners to acknowledge authorised economic operator and trusted trader schemes that reduce risk to our border;
  • investigate full electronic data reporting for all goods arriving and departing our borders;
  • explore a variety of appropriate models of integration with traders including direct access to some traders’ logistics systems for streamlined profiling;
  • continue the process of transforming its intelligence capability. This work has already begun through the development of a $30 million National Border Targeting Centre; and
  • continue the process of automating the border. Plans are currently being developed to extend the use of automated processing for other e-passport holders, including the United States and United Kingdom and China as well as automate the process for people departing the country. Beyond this, Customs will investigate the use of next generation e-Gates and mobile e-Gates.

The first report for the Customs Reform Board can be found at www.ag.gov.au/Publications/Pages/CustomsReformBoard-FirstReport-June2013.aspx

The Blueprint for Blueprint for Reform of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service can be found at www.customs.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/ACBPS-Blueprint-for-Reform-2013-2018.pdf


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