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Output 4.3 - Government Communications

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Output 4.3 Government Communications
Performance indicators
Coordination of government communications, including management of the Central Advertising System (CAS). Quality: The degree of satisfaction of the Chairman and members of the Ministerial Committee on Government Communications (MCGC) with the advice and secretariat support provided by the Government Communications Unit (GCU).

The degree of satisfaction with the Central Advertising System among clients of the master placement agencies.

Timeliness
: Maximise compliance with the requirement that agenda papers be provided by departments and agencies seven working days prior to an MCGC meeting.

Quantity
: On the basis of recent experience, the GCU would expect to organise and coordinate 40 meetings of the MCGC covering 25 public information activities in 2002-03.
Provision of photographic services by AUSPIC (the government photographic service). Quality: The degree of customer satisfaction with AUSPIC services.

Price: Achievement of a break-even financial position from trading activities by AUSPIC.

Cost of outputs - $2.9m

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Qualitative assessment

Methodology

The First Assistant Secretary, People, Resources and Communication Division, meets with the Chairman of the Ministerial Committee on Government Communications (MCGC) - the Special Minister of State, Senator the Hon. Eric Abetz - before each meeting of the MCGC and, at the conclusion of each meeting, receives feedback from both the chairman and committee members. The First Assistant Secretary also meets regularly with representatives of the Prime Minister’s Office to review performance in relation to specific issues.

AUSPIC (the government photographic service) meets regularly with its clients to monitor service standards.

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Feedback

Feedback from both the Chairman of the MCGC and the Prime Minister’s Office on the performance of the Government Communications Unit (GCU) in the provision of support and advice to the MCGC was positive.

Feedback on AUSPIC services indicated an ongoing high level of client satisfaction.

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Key results

The workload of the GCU remained heavy during the course of the year as a result of a continuing high level of communications activities. Notwithstanding the level of the workload, the GCU continued to provide a full range of analysis, advice and support to the MCGC, the Prime Minister, the departmental Executive and departments and agencies.

Demand for services remained high and customer requirements continued to be met.

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Ministerial Committee on Government Communications

The GCU provided strategic communications advice as well as advice on individual information campaigns to the MCGC. It supported departments and agencies by providing advice on communications arrangements, including advice on research, public relations and advertising. The GCU also managed the Central Advertising System (CAS), which delivers a reliable and cost-effective media placement service for departments and agencies.

The MCGC met on 46 occasions during the year to consider 25 information activities and other matters put to it by departments through the GCU. The frequency of meetings reflected the number of significant information activities undertaken by the government in 2002-03. The more important information activities were those associated with the implementation of Australian Defence Force recruitment ($19.7 million), national security awareness ($6.8 million), quarantine awareness ($4.2 million), the provision of information on Australian Government programmes and services in regional Australia ($2.7 million) and voluntary compliance ($2 million).

The GCU facilitated and organised 13 seminars and workshops on communications and media issues. They were attended by some 874 staff from 58 departments and agencies and received positive feedback from attendees.

There were instances when the GCU was not able to obtain papers from departments and agencies seven days in advance of MCGC meetings. However, the GCU did consistently advise MCGC of such instances and obtained waivers to the seven-day rule from the chairman where appropriate.

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Media issues

The GCU undertook two major tendering processes for the appointment of a master media planning and placement agency for campaign advertising (Universal McCann was the successful tenderer) and the appointment of a master media placement agency for non-campaign advertising (hma Blaze was the successful tenderer). Both contracts commenced on 1 December 2002 and cover a period of three years and ten months. The GCU’s negotiations with the media on advertising rates, terms and conditions achieved outcomes for the CAS that were significantly better than the standard rates offered. In 2002-03 approximately $99 million in advertising expenditure was placed through the CAS.

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Photographic services

AUSPIC operates on a cost-recovery basis to provide photographic services to the government, the Parliament, senators and members. AUSPIC continued to meet the continuing high rate of demand for its services, particularly in the area of digital photography - which provides flexibility and quick turnaround for its clients.

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Administered Item - Media Commissions Advance Account

The funds in the Media Commissions Advance Account are used to remunerate the Australian Government’s contracted master media placement agencies - and, if required, any creative advertising agencies - for the placement of Australian Government advertising. Funds are derived from the commission paid by the media to the Australian Government when it places its advertising.

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