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Welcome to the Team Downer blog. This blog will feature insights from Team Downer about various topics related to the work of the Major Service Provider (also known as the MSP), as well as the wider defence industry.

2020 has arrived and fresh challenges await us. As the holidays begin to recede into memory and we settle back into our roles it is time for each of us to remember what it is we do, and more importantly—why we do it.

The what and the why

For Team Downer, the answer is simple: we work on behalf of the Commonwealth to assist them to deliver key services including strategically managing their workforce, delivering their projects on time and to budget, and ensuring proper sustainment is available for new Defence assets. We do this because we want to support the system that supports the Australian Defence Force in turn; in this case that is the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group or CASG.  

CASG has a large and complex role to play in the broader Australian Defence Organisation, and their transition to the MSP model reflects a renewed focus on delivering upon their core mission by leveraging private sector expertise to take on business critical tasks that demand a lot of care and attention. It isn’t that CASG doesn’t have the ability; it’s that they have reordered their priorities to deliver better public value in line with policies such as the 2016 Defence Industry Policy Statement, which notes that ‘…Australia’s defence industry is essential to the operations of the Australian Defence Force and to the capability we need to protect Australia and our national interests.’

The Defence Industry Policy Statement also directed Defence to ‘…streamline tendering and contracting procedures and rationalise the industry programs to cut red tape and make it simpler and less costly for Australian industry to support Defence.’ This Policy Statement was further reinforced with the release of the Defence Industry Capability Plan in 2018.

The creation and adoption of the MSP model is a direct consequence of these policies; it significantly decreases the administrative burden on both the Commonwealth and industry by enabling a more proactive and considered approach to identifying and sourcing skilled individuals to undertake complex work in contrast to the traditional panel arrangements used by Defence in the past.  Importantly, the analysis of the flaws of the previous model originated with Defence itself.        

The Commonwealth’s approach to the defence industry has shifted in recent decades as the sector has matured and the Commonwealth has encouraged and shepherded the growth of a genuine Australian defence industry sovereign capability, as outlined in the plan. The partnership between CASG is an expression of that growth and recognises the important role that industry plays in defence in the 21st century.

Above the line thinking

So how does Team Downer contribute to creating public value at CASG? We do it through ‘above the line thinking’—which is also our new tagline that you will see on Team Downer branding.

Above the line thinking is a workplace behavioural concept that describes positive behaviours and modes of thought such as about accepting responsibility, being open, curious and proactive, and seeking solutions.

As a team of problem solvers, we felt that making ‘above the line thinking’ our new tagline was a positive way to kick off a new decade. It reflects the above the line service offering that Team Downer makes as an MSP on behalf of the Commonwealth, while also referencing the idea of ‘above the line’ thinking in how we approach our work.

The accompanying infographic illustrates some of the behaviours.

Team Downer values above the line thinking, as it is this kind of thinking that came up with the MSP model to begin with, and it is this kind of thinking that is the cornerstone of our success. Above the line thinking is more than just a guidepost to success, it is a call to action and a reminder to stand back and view the big picture from time to time.  It is about saying ‘we can’ instead of ‘we can’t’, and that is what Team Downer is all about.