02/07/2008 - 22:00

Nolan to streamline co-ordination

02/07/2008 - 22:00


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Improving co-ordination between government departments and making the public sector an attractive place to work will be among the key priorities for the woman about to take over as Department of Industry and Resources director general, Anne Nolan.

Nolan to streamline co-ordination
GOOD FIT: Anne Nolan brings a wealth of public sector experience with her to her new role at DOIR. Photo: Grant Currall

Improving co-ordination between government departments and making the public sector an attractive place to work will be among the key priorities for the woman about to take over as Department of Industry and Resources director general, Anne Nolan.

Beginning her five-year term on July 7, Ms Nolan is aware of the unique challenges she faces in what is arguably one of the government's most important departments during this period of rapid development.

"The enormous and unprecedented growth we've seen in the past couple of years would put pressure on any system," Ms Nolan told WA Business News.

"That means we have to continually refine our systems and bring the resources to bear, to actually work. And that is a challenge in this environment."

Ms Nolan brings to the role a wealth of experience in leading and developing public sector agencies, most recently as deputy director general, cabinet and policy, at the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

Her other government posts include chief executive of the Independent Market Operator, coordinator of energy and chief executive of the Office of Energy, and assistant under-treasurer (economic) at the Department of Treasury and Finance.

"I've worked a lot across government, and one of things in this environment we work in now is that you need to have great co-ordination between government departments," Ms Nolan said.

"The public sector has to understand what the real key issues are to the private sector, they're timing and their commerciality, and I think one of the things I do understand is commercial issues and business and I can bring that to the department."

Ms Nolan said the department needed to perform its legislative functions, such as approvals, in the most streamlined and efficient manner.

Pivotal to this is tackling the challenge of staffing.

Ms Nolan wants to make DOIR an attractive place to work, to enable it to attract and retain quality personnel.

"Staff is an issue across all public and private [operations], and it has a particular resonance in DOIR because some of the positions are very much open to poaching from the private sector," she said.

"That we need to deal with by making DOIR a very good place to work for the long term and in terms of providing the rewards, both financial and non-financial.

"Some appreciate the diversity of rewards you get and the buzz you get of actually having a real influence; what you can contribute is very strong."

The pressures on the department in recent times have coincided with a reduction in the business sector's satisfaction with DOIR's performance, particularly in the area of project facilitation.

Following a functional review by LandCorp chairman Terry Budge, earlier this year the department underwent a restructure aimed at improving its ability to respond to the state's current economic environment.

The restructure reduced the number of divisions within the department and reallocated priority areas within the existing divisions to improve DOIR's output ability.

Key elements of the restructure included the formation of the state development policy group, which will review and initiate state development policy and manage policy issues for major initiatives, such as the northern development taskforce.

An industry development group was also formed to bring together the range of activities that manage development proposals to better coordinate and improve the transfer of knowledge across the industry sectors.

In addition, a performance and review group has been established for 12 months to review functions and programs to enable the department to enhance performance and better allocate resources to areas of greatest need.

Ms Nolan believes structure, in itself, isn't the most important thing, but rather how the department delivers its services to best meet the needs of government and stakeholders.

"I think what's important is how you use those structures and how you work across the WA public sector, and then how you work with other sectors of government and the industry sectors," she said.

"The need for co-operation is increasing, because of the interactive way of our economy and people's expectation in the community. They want economic growth but they want it in an environmentally sensitive way and they want to make sure there's good social inclusion and responsibility."

Ms Nolan doesn't believe the wide range of industry sectors covered by DOIR - from biotech, marine and defence, and renewable energy to science and innovation - dilutes its focus or draws attention away from its other responsibilities.

She has a particular interest in encouraging the development of renewable energy to enable the sector to become a vital part of the economy.

"The government should be in the business of providing a level playing field and making it fair for all to compete."


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