Ideas to actions: DAFF’s innovation experience

Hi everyone

We’re the I-Gen team from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

I-Gen stands for ‘innovation generation’ and is our department’s innovation initiative that was launched on 7 May 2010, after extensive trials.

I-Gen encourages staff to come up with ideas that improve the way the department works and helps them drive their ideas forward.

It provides the support and tools to convert ideas into proposals, including a dedicated intranet site; networks of coordinators and mentors to help proponents of ideas; and links to relevant documents and websites.

Importantly, I-Gen is a systematic and coordinated approach to managing ideas. All the ideas that come through I-Gen are stored on the intranet site where everyone in the department can view them.

The advantages of this kind of ‘ideas repository’ is that it allows people to easily collaborate and work together on projects and it also avoids duplication of similar ideas.

Our colleagues have had some great ideas, ranging from very small schemes to improve communication between branches to larger projects that have involved working with industry to change importation procedures.

An I-Gen case study


One successful idea, progressed through I-Gen, was to improve the process of importing flower bulbs.

Each year, Australia imports nearly 100 million ornamental bulbs, mostly from approved sources, for commercial cut-flower production. For years, the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) has inspected each consignment of bulbs many times which is time-consuming and costly.

An analysis of the data showed that no significant quarantine diseases had been found on the bulbs for more than five years. So, some AQIS staff used I-Gen to progress an idea to explore alternative import clearance procedures for certified ornamental bulbs.

AQIS and industry collaborated on this I-Gen project and came up with a new approach whereby importers and growers will keep detailed records of all bulb imports and their movements. AQIS will reduce the number of inspections and regularly audit the records to make sure they comply with the new arrangements. This improved process will begin in late 2010.

Everyone benefits—industry saves money and AQIS uses fewer resources while still effectively managing the quarantine risk.

This is just one of the many ideas that have come through I-Gen.

If you’d like to find out more about the principles and mechanics behind DAFF’s innovation initiative, feel free to contact us or comment below:

Brant Smith, Manager, I-Gen Team
tel: (02) 6272 3515 or email brant.smith [at] daff.gov.au

or

Helen Bailey, Assistant Manager, I-Gen Team
tel: (02) 6272 5760 or email helen.bailey [at] daff.gov.au

Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.