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The Defence Service Charter

The Defence Service Charter is a short, plain-language document that sets out the quality of service customers can expect to receive from Defence. It assists Defence in focusing on the needs of its customers, the level of service it is committed to provide in its interactions with the public, and what it will do if it does not meet those goals. The underlying concept of the Service Charter is to ensure quality service to the community, though it also sets the standards that Defence people should adhere to when interacting with others within the organisation, and other agencies in our daily work.

The term 'customer' in the context of the charter refers to the people whom the organisation is seeking to serve, bearing in mind that Defence is not a traditional 'service provider' with a well-defined customer base. The charter also outlines avenues for taking up complaints, the means of commenting on the charter, and the way the charter is kept up to date.

By monitoring compliance with the charter and reviewing its requirements regularly, Defence aims to keep the charter current and challenging, so as to ensure that the quality of service provided is of the highest standard possible.

Defence reports annually to the Minister for Defence on the extent to which it is meeting the performance standards relating to the charter. The following is a full reprint of the report to the Minister.

Performance Standards

The key performance standards in the Defence Service Charter are:

If Defence does not meet these standards, officers will explain what has happened and try to rectify the situation. Defence will not hesitate to apologise if it is wrong.

Performance Monitoring

Groups within Defence have systems in place to track compliments and complaints The following procedures have been put in place in relation to the type and extent of information collected:

Performance in 2002-03

During 2002-03, the Defence Service Charter was updated, providing a simplified charter that outlines the quality of service customers can expect to receive from Defence. The revised charter replaces the original Defence Service Charter issued in 1998.

Awareness of Charter

The Defence Service Charter is available electronically on the internal and external Defence websites . In 2002-03, a pamphlet and a poster were produced to reinvigorate awareness of the charter.

Copies of the new Defence Service Charter and poster were disseminated to those areas that deal directly with members of the public, including the Defence Community Organisation, Defence Force Recruiting offices, and civilian recruitment areas.

Customer Feedback and Complaints

The avenues open to customers to complain or to provide feedback, together with contact details, are stated in the charter in a step-by-step format. They include phoning or writing to the particular area concerned, the supervisor of the area, or through the Ministers or Parliamentary Secretary, or the complainant's local Member of Parliament or Senator. There is also a dedicated email address In addition, customers can contact the Commonwealth Defence Force Ombudsman.

Table 1.17: Complaints Made to Defence 1998-99 - 2002-03
1998-99 1999-2000 2000-01 2001-02 2002-03
Number of complaints 375 307 745 691 490

The average time taken to resolve complaints varied across Defence, but most complaints were resolved within the stated performance standard of 15 working days. Groups report that, as in 2001-02, the most common complaints related to recruitment processes, honours and awards, and aircraft noise.

The most common compliments Groups received were for the overall level of Defence assistance to the civil community, especially in relation to ADF personnel attendance and displays at public events. The satisfaction rate for 2002-03, which is a measure of Defence's complaint handling procedures, was approximately 95 per cent. This is measured primarily by there being no repeat complaints.

Responsiveness to Ministerial Correspondence

Defence placed a high priority on improving its performance in preparing material to enable the Ministers and the Parliamentary Secretary to reply to correspondence.

The increase in volume of written correspondence (an increase of 34 per cent from 2001-02), coupled with the reduction of the response time to ten working days, caused many Groups to improve their internal processes to deal with the increased workload, and led to an 82 per cent success rate in meeting the mandated deadlines. The increase in written correspondence has been driven primarily by a number of letter writing campaigns, mainly concerning the Defence property disposal program.

Table 1.18: Percentage of Departmental Response Times Against Standard Requirement of 10 Days
1998-99 1999-2000 2000-01 2001-02 2002-03
Number of letters received 8,428 9,421 9,657 9,580 12,820
Average per cent of responses that met 10 working day standard requirement(1) 50 75 86 76 82
  1. Prior to 2002-03, the requirement was 15 days.

Payment of Accounts

Another customer service measure is that of payment of accounts. Defence's account payment benchmark is the payment of 95 per cent of all accounts within the nominated trading term, which is generally 30 days from receipt of a correctly rendered invoice and receipt of the goods and services.

During the year, a number of initiatives were taken to improve simple procurement. The initiatives included a performance management framework designed to monitor and report on processing efficiency and related issues, and improving awareness of the need to pay accounts promptly. In addition, a dedicated unit was formed to monitor and report on creditor management issues, with the aim of encouraging compliance with processing standards and making suggestions for improvements.

The accounts paid by the due date figure of 83.9 per cent was an improvement on the previous year, but still well short of Defence's payment benchmark. Further improvements planned for more efficient transaction processing are the adoption of imaging technology and e-commerce systems for procurement and payment.

Table 1.19: Percentage of Accounts Paid By Due Date
Financial Year Number of Accounts Paid Accounts Paid by Due Date Percentage of Accounts Paid by Due Date
2002-03 1,223,733 1,026,383 83.9
2001-02 1,122,962 928,843 82.7
2000-01 1,068,434 837,360 78.4
1999-2000 1,126,057 924,579 82.1