Project Title

APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) APEC-wide Online Lodgement System Design Workshop 

Project Year

2016   

Project Number

CTI 10 2016 

Project Session

Session 1   

Project Type

Standard 

Project Status

Project in Implementation   
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Project No.

CTI 10 2016 

Project Title

APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) APEC-wide Online Lodgement System Design Workshop 

Project Status

Project in Implementation 

Publication (if any)

 

Fund Account

General Project Account 

Sub-fund

None 

Project Year

2016 

Project Session

Session 1 

APEC Funding

110,000 

Co-funding Amount

5,000 

Total Project Value

115,000 

Sponsoring Forum

Business Mobility Group (BMG) 

Topics

Mobility of Business People 

Committee

Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI) 

Other Fora Involved

 

Other Non-APEC Stakeholders Involved

 

Proposing Economy(ies)

Australia 

Co-Sponsoring Economies

China; New Zealand; Peru; Philippines; Singapore; Thailand 

Expected Start Date

01/08/2016 

Expected Completion Date

28/02/2017 

Project Proponent Name 1

Dr Brooke Thomas 

Job Title 1

Director, North Asia and APEC Section 

Organization 1

Australian Department of Immigration and Border (DIBP) 

Postal Address 1

5 Chan Street, Belconnen, ACT 2617 

Telephone 1

61-2 61987230 

Fax 1

Not Applicable 

Email 1

apec@border.gov.au and brooke.thomas@border.gov.au  

Project Proponent Name 2

Not Applicable 

Job Title 2

Not Applicable 

Organization 2

Not Applicable 

Postal Address 2

Not Applicable 

Telephone 2

Not Applicable 

Fax 2

Not Applicable 

Email 2

Not Applicable 

Declaration

Dr Brooke Thomas 

Project Summary

The BMG has identified implementation of an APEC-wide ABTC online application lodgement functionality as its highest priority for 2016. To achieve implementation of an inclusive online lodgement solution, an Online Lodgement System Design Workshop is proposed. The workshop will allow IT professionals from interested economies to travel to Australia, to meet with ABTC system administrators/design experts. The workshop would allow scoping of an inclusive online lodgement capability, which will inform the systems design for the implementation of ABTC online lodgement. 

The ability for all participating economies to provide online lodgement capability for their citizens has been recommended/endorsed by the End-to-End Review of the ABTC Scheme, the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), the ABTC Technical Workshop (Brisbane, November 2015), and the BMG’s Online Lodgement Working Group (Australia, China, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines and Canada). Similarly, the ABTC business community of more than 200 000 active card holders justifiably expect that online lodgement be available, to provide ease of access to this flagship APEC product. If not immediately progressed, there is a risk that the 20-year old ABTC could lose its standing as an innovative, desirable business travel facilitation initiative.

Relevance

Presently, the majority of the 19 fully participating ABTC economies have no form of online lodgement for their citizens. For the four economies that do, or soon will have a form of online lodgement (China, Korea, Singapore and Thailand), they have an imperfect method of transferring the collected applicant information into the ABTC system, sometimes relying on manual data entry or manual ‘batch uploads’.  Other economies have retro-fitted an IT solution that is unreasonably reliant on the limited means of inputting information into the ABTC system. Systems design for an APEC-wide online lodgement capability would consider the requirements of all economies, to provide the means for applicants to submit an application for an ABTC and, once approved by their home economy, for this information to be automatically uploaded into the ABTC system. 

This project falls into ‘Rank 1’ and is linked to ‘Rank 2’. Both the objective of the project; to improve the efficiency and ease of access to the ABTC and the objective of the ABTC itself; to facilitate fast and efficient travel of business persons in the APEC region, relate directly to ‘Rank 1’ - Promoting Regional Economic Integration via Free and Open Trade and Investment.  Within Rank 1, the project specifically relates to Supporting the Multilateral Trading System and the Bogor Goals, Trade and Investment Facilitation, Ease of Doing Business and the implementation of the APEC Connectivity Blueprint, particularly People-to-People Connectivity. It should be noted that the project will observe APEC objectives towards gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, through both delegate attendance at the workshop, as well as access to the ABTC scheme itself.  The project is  also linked to ‘Rank 2’, by supporting ‘innovative and inclusive growth’, as access to a generic ABTC online lodgement web service will ensure that all economies, regardless of size can benefit from a pre-built, low-cost, automated online lodgement service, provided they choose to participate in the future.

Objectives

The Online Lodgement System Design Workshop will be used to allow IT professionals from interested economies to travel to Canberra, Australia, to meet with the Australian ABTC system administrators and system design experts to scope the building of an inclusive online lodgement capability.

Two key objectives of this project will be realised from holding the Online Lodgement System Design Workshop and are as follows.

1) Scoping a customised web-service solution for the four existing members of the BMG that have/or will soon have a specified means of online lodgement, tailored to their home economy internal processes (China, Korea, Singapore, Thailand and any other members that identify a need for a customised web-service);

2) Scoping a generic web-service online lodgement capability for economies who may choose to adopt this method of online lodgement immediately, or at a point in the future.

Work undertaken prior to the workshop will include agreement on mandatory ABTC system fields, with the workshop itself to reinforce this understanding, as well as to ensure that the requirements of all economies are appropriately considered during the subsequent system design phase.  The systems design for the eventual implementation of APEC‑wide online lodgement will require a significant investment by APEC, with the workshop to inform this next step, including approximate implementation dates and potential cost.

More broadly, the adoption of online lodgement will assist economies and their citizens by improving access, efficiency and accuracy of home economy processing, minimising costly and imprecise manual handling of important biographical data and allowing economies to re-deploy resources towards improving pre-clearance processing times, as outlined in the Connectivity Blueprint. Implementation will also bring the ABTC into line with APEC business community expectations that applications be made electronically.

Alignment

The 2015 APEC Ministerial Meeting Joint Statement commended the extension of validity of the ABTC from three to five years beginning 1 September 2015 and it now follows that online lodgement becomes the focus for 2016.  Peru’s Tasking Statement for 2016 also references continued efforts to improve and develop the ABTC in its host year.

The APEC Connectivity Blueprint outlined the commitment to grow the ABTC and to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the ABTC scheme.  These efforts relate directly to the pillar of People-to-people Connectivity.

In its recommendations to APEC Leaders in 2015, ABAC encouraged economies to adopt online lodgement to simplify the ABTC process and also asked that Leaders support the BMG in its assessment of online lodgement.

The priority of online lodgement was strongly endorsed by the BMG’s Online Lodgement Working Group (group of 5 + 1 Australia, China, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Canada) as well as the BMG at SOM1 2016 – with online lodgement forming a key objective in the BMG’s Goals for 2016. Related work towards improving the ABTC are outlined below and lead the BMG to the next step of scoping online lodgement:

1) December 2014 – Delivery of Washington Core’s End-to-End Review of the ABTC Scheme, identifying online lodgment as a recommendation to the BMG.

2) February 2015 – ABTC Workshop held at SOM1 2015 – Online lodgement identified as a near-term priority for the ABTC and the ‘Online Lodgement Working Group’ formed.

3) March 2015 – ABTC Workshop Report delivered, with short-term priority recommendations towards

a) extension of validity of ABTC (3 to 5 years), (implemented on 1 September 2015),

b) technical assistance and improving pre-clearance processing times, addressed through the Program Management Assistance Project, ABTC Technical Workshop (held in November 2015), and ABTC Best Practice Processing Guide and;

c) APEC-wide online lodgement.

4) November 2015 – ABTC Technical Workshop held in Brisbane, Australia. With attendance from ABTC processing and IT representatives from 12 economies, the workshop recommended that the BMG proceed with implementation of online lodgement as a priority.

5) February 2016 – Noting developments and recommendations of APEC and BMG fora, the BMG agreed that implementation of online lodgment be inserted as a BMG Goal for 2016, also noting that online lodgement is the final near term recommendation that members agreed to prioritise from the End-to-End Review of the ABTC scheme. Agreement extended to the immediate drafting and submission of a concept note to hold a System Design Workshop, so that all economies could partake.

TILF/ASF Justification

Not Applicable.

Beneficiaries and Outputs

Outputs: Outputs from the project will include preliminary system design work required to build an APEC-wide ABTC online lodgement system that will transfer client application data from members into the existing ABTC system.  Preliminary work will include the surveying of participating economies’ system design requirements, for example, agreement of mandatory system fields, payment methods, industry/business bodies that share in the decision making process and domestic criminal history checking practices. This preliminary work will be conducted in the lead up to the workshop so that the workshop can be focused on concrete outcomes towards the realisation of online lodgement. 

The major output will be the hosting of the Online Lodgement System Design Workshop itself, with discussion and agreement on mandatory systems fields, member preferences for a customised or generic web-service, consideration of member’s specific system design scoping requirements and a subsequent report of these requirements. The report itself will inform the systems design for the implementation of APEC-wide ABTC online lodgement.

The workshop will include detailed discussion and analysis by all relevant technical experts, including system administrators, developers, testers, business analysts and others. Recommendations on the way forward will be provided in the outcomes report which will be led by the PO and presented to the BMG at SOM1 2017 for decision on implementation. 

Outcomes: The information collected during the project will inform the systems design for APEC-wide online lodgement and once implemented, will greatly improve internal economy processes and ABTC client behavior.  The systems design workshop will holistically consider the requirements of all economies, to provide the means for applicants to submit an application for an ABTC and, once approved by their home economy, for this information to be automatically uploaded into the ABTC system. Submitting ABTC applications electronically will streamline the application process for ABTC applicants, making it more efficient to apply for an ABTC. Applicants from economies that do not have an existing form of online lodgement (the majority of APEC) will not have to rely on paper forms and postage.  Online lodgement for ABTC holders is all the more important because frequent business travelers across the Asia-Pacific justifiably expect that online lodgement is the primary method of application available. 

In addition, the efficiency of ABTC processing staff will also improve significantly. Receipting applications electronically will streamline the work of ABTC processing staff, freeing them to focus on improving pre-clearance processing times for foreign ABTC applicants. Application information will no longer need to be transferred from a paper form to an assessment system, negating instances of human error, which can sometimes contribute to biographical data being recorded incorrectly into the system. Online lodgement will also remove the need to store and keep excessive amounts of paper, which, considering the 200 000 active ABTC holders across APEC, will also streamline processes for ABTC processing staff.

As the end goal of this project is to realise APEC-wide online lodgement, implementation will change the way that ABTC applicants and processing staff manage applications, making the process more efficient and using available technology to ensure that the ABTC remains accessible and an innovative, desirable business travel facilitation initiative. 

Beneficiaries: Direct project participants and invitees to the workshop will be IT professionals who are familiar with the ABTC system and the specific domestic eligibility and information collection requirements. Beneficiaries include the APEC business community (current ABTC holders and potential future ABTC applicants) and government/private entities associated with processing the ABTC. 

Broad economy participation is expected given that all members stand to benefit from the implementation of either a customised or generic web-based online lodgement platform. 

Online Lodgement System Design Workshop participants will be able to use the workshop as a forum to share their expertise and contribute positively and effectively to an APEC-wide solution. This will allow all participants to benefit from the project. While participants from the Brisbane 2015 Technical Workshop are invited to attend for the sake of continuity, they must also possess the relevant subject matter expertise in systems and online lodgement in order to be able to contribute positively to discussion and also harness a technical benefit. 

The APEC business community will be the ultimate beneficiary of the project, as APEC-wide online lodgement of the ABTC will improve the accessibility of the card and further reduce the cost of doing business in the APEC region.

Dissemination

A report from the Online Lodgement System Design Workshop will be disseminated by the Office of the BMG Convenor and Australia as PO and will not require funding. The target audience of the report will be workshop participants, relevant economy representatives who were not able to attend and the wider BMG. The PO will also present the findings of the report at SOM1 2017. Further reporting will be made available to interested and relevant parties and subfora such as the Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI) and ABAC. There is no intention to sell outputs arising from the project. 

This report will have no public facing aspect and as such, will not be posted on a public website.

Gender

The project will observe APEC objectives towards gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, through both delegate attendance at the workshop, as well as access to the ABTC scheme itself.  The project will utilise existing technical experts regardless of gender, so there will be no bias based on gender or any other factor. Attendance at the workshop will include both men and women. Half of the PO team, including the PO herself, is female, which will ensure strong female leadership and facilitation of the workshop. Within offices of BMG members there is a number of female staff whose skills and services will be engaged and utilised during this project. 

At another technical level workshop held in Brisbane in November 2015, delegate attendance was roughly half female and half male. As the Online Lodgement System Design Workshop will include participants of a similar working level, it is likely that delegate attendance will again include a high number of women.

The project objectives aim to benefit all participating economies, particularly with the streamlining of processes for processing staff. At the recent Technical Workshop held in Brisbane in November 2015 (at which processing staff formed the majority of delegates present), approximately half of the delegates were female. Based on this evidence, the project will benefit a large number of women who work as processing staff.

Furthermore, the APEC business community, including ABTC holders and ABTC applicants will benefit from the eventual online lodgement solution. As the business community includes both men and women, this project will benefit both genders.

Work Plan

The planning stage of the workshop will include agreement by BMG members on the mandatory systems fields that an online lodgement system must continue to collect to feed into the existing ABTC system. This work can be conducted prior to the hosting of the workshop itself, which will take place after SOM3 2016 and led by the PO. The PO will consult with internal systems developers by early July at the latest so that information such as mandatory systems fields can be asked of economies prior to SOM3 2016. At SOM3 2016, any economies that had not responded will have the opportunity to engage with the PO and ask questions if necessary. Planning will also take account of the differing needs of each APEC economy.  Importance will be placed on ensuring representation from both economies with an existing form of online lodgement and those that do not have online lodgement and may prefer to pursue a generic systems design that will allow them to “opt into” in the future. The planning work will be reflected in the agenda, to be developed by Australia.

The only contracts that will be signed in relation to this project will be between the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the venue, with some costs to be reimbursed with project funds via application from the PO to the APEC Secretariat. Once an invitation is sent to all economies and RSVPs are received, a participant list will be prepared by Australia, who will also check off participation at the workshop. A report of outcomes and next steps will be prepared by Australia in conjunction with participants during, and after the workshop.

The workshop itself will require three days to ensure that adequate time is allowed for input to be sought from each economy. Due to the complexity of some economies’ application processes, including multiple government agencies and business/industry bodies, some separate meetings will need to take place to take account of this. The workshop will allow Australian system designers to produce a systems design scoping document, on which the BMG can consider next steps. This document will be presented to the BMG at SOM1 2017.

Risks

The Online Lodgement System Design Workshop Project is designed to foster regional engagement and build capability among all APEC economies for the benefit of ABTC applicants. For this reason, risks will be low.

One such risk may be the inability of some economies to engage with the project because of non-attendance. This risk is offset by engagement and attendance being of mutual interest and benefit to all economies.  As the workshop is being arranged to facilitate and incorporate the different application requirements of each economy there are substantial incentives for economies to attend, particularly as the end result will be an improved client service experience for ABTC applicants in the home economy.  Furthermore, online lodgement was agreed at SOM1 2016 to be a BMG priority in 2016 and SOM3 will provide an opportunity for the BMG Convenor to reinforce the importance of strong attendance. Support and direction from Senior Officials to achieve the priority of online lodgement should also mitigate any risk from a lack of engagement at the workshop. The PO will send an invitation to economies as soon as possible after funding approval from the BMC.

Should any interested economies not attend the Online Lodgement System Design Workshop, an outcomes report will still be sent to those economies to obtain their input. These economies will have the opportunity to provide their input to the PO prior to the completion of the project and well before SOM1 2017 so that the PO can prepare a comprehensive, considered and consolidated report for the BMG. Economies will also be provided with a detailed report by Australia at SOM1 2017. To this end, the risks associated with non-attendance are low, but will also be mitigated.

Another risk identified is the possible lack of English proficiency of IT specialists who attend the workshop. While there is an expectation that workshop participants will have some English language skills, it is not reasonable to expect IT professionals from every economy that wishes to participate to have a working level of English encompassing technical language and terminology. This was certainly the case at the Technical Workshop held in November 2015 as part of the Programme Management Assistance Project, where not all workshop attendees were able to get the full benefit of participation due to a lack of English skills. With this recent experience in mind, a lack of English proficiency would be a high risk to the success of the Online Lodgement System Design Workshop project.  This will be mitigated by the provision of simultaneous interpreting, for which a waiver approval has been outlined in Budget Note 2.

Monitoring and Evaluation

The project will be evaluated against its ability to allow economies and ABTC systems administrators/designers to scope an inclusive online application lodgement capability. A report will be provided to the BMG for further work towards implementation at SOM1 2017.

The information that will be collected to assess progress and impact will include feedback from workshop participants. As the participants will include existing technical staff, they are best placed to advise the PO on progress during the workshop. As participants will include existing technical staff, there is no gender bias on participation and no gender impacts to assess. The end goal of implementing an APEC-wide online lodgement solution will benefit ABTC applicants in addition to the existing 200 000 cardholders, with no gender bias. 

The Brisbane 2015 Technical Workshop attracted 36 participants from 12 economies. The aim of this workshop was to provide programme management assistance, particularly to less-developed economies and sharing best practices of more developed economies. The aim of the Online Lodgement System Design Workshop is to attract as many IT experts as possible from as many economies as possible in order for workable solutions to be workshopped in detail and to this end, the PO would hope for an even higher level of participation than the Technical Workshop. Should all fully participating economies in the ABTC Scheme send two technical experts and should there also be a fully staffed team supporting the PO, there should be approximately 45 delegates at the Online Lodgement System Design Workshop. 

Indicators on how the project is tracking will be managed by the office of the PO. Attendance will be monitored, encouraged and supported with an administrative circular. An indicator of the project meeting its objectives will be the resulting discussion at the workshop and will be evidenced in an outcomes report.

Linkages

The project will improve understanding between ABTC system administrators in all economies and will be a key step towards implementing APEC-wide online lodgement for ABTC applicants.  The workshop itself builds upon the work already undertaken towards implementing key recommendations from the End-to-End Review of the ABTC Scheme, as well as the calls for online lodgement from the APEC business community, ABAC and systems and processing areas within our respective governments. 

The CTI and ABAC have voiced support for the BMG priority of online lodgement and may be consulted on next steps. This engagement will ensure that the business community are informed of progress and can further contribute momentum towards online lodgement. 

APEC is unambiguously the best source of funds for this project as it is the founder of the ABTC.

Sustainability

The result of the Online Lodgement System Design Workshop Project will benefit the overall ABTC Scheme in the long-term through the achievement and implementation of online lodgement as an APEC-wide capability. Beneficiaries will be supported to carry forward the result via the online lodgement system. This will be developed as a future project with appropriate technical experts to build the functionality in a next phase, guided by BMG decisions. As the BMG is responsible for ABTC matters, the BMG will track next steps at subsequent SOMs. The PO will remain as a focal point to continue to support beneficiaries during design and implementation of the online lodgement system. This will be conducted in the PO’s capacity as PO as well as BMG Convenor. The PO will monitor support as needed via feedback at the SOM and through follow up emails after the workshop. 

The end goal outcome of this project as per Question 6 is an APEC-wide online lodgement capability and the next steps on development and implementation will be workshopped by Online Lodgement System Design Workshop participants. Progress on the outcomes and impacts will be measured by the BMG after the project is completed via an outcomes report at SOM1 2017.

Project Overseers

The PO is the BMG Convenor, Dr Brooke Thomas, who will be the ultimate sign off point for managing contractors and venues. Dr Thomas will be assisted by Australia, with the team comprising of Ben Combe, Stephanie Chu and James Tyrrell. Additional staff from the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection will be utilised as needed and communications will be channeled through the main APEC team of Ben, Stephanie and James. The main contact point will be the designated mailbox apec@border.gov.au.

Cost Efficiency

Not Applicable.

Drawdown Timetable

Not Applicable.

Direct Labour

Not Applicable.

Waivers

Not Applicable.

Are there any supporting document attached?

No 
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Project No.

Project Title

Project Status

Publication (if any)

Fund Account

Sub-fund

Project Year

Project Session

APEC Funding

Co-funding Amount

Total Project Value

Sponsoring Forum

Topics

Committee

Other Fora Involved

Other Non-APEC Stakeholders Involved

Proposing Economy(ies)

Co-Sponsoring Economies

Expected Start Date

Expected Completion Date

Project Proponent Name 1

Job Title 1

Organization 1

Postal Address 1

Telephone 1

Fax 1

Email 1

Project Proponent Name 2

Job Title 2

Organization 2

Postal Address 2

Telephone 2

Fax 2

Email 2

Declaration

Project Summary

Relevance

Objectives

Alignment

TILF/ASF Justification

Beneficiaries and Outputs

Dissemination

Gender

Work Plan

Risks

Monitoring and Evaluation

Linkages

Sustainability

Project Overseers

Cost Efficiency

Drawdown Timetable

Direct Labour

Waivers

Are there any supporting document attached?

hdFldAdmin

Project Number

Previous Fora

Secretariat Comments

Reprogramming Notes

Consolidated QAF

Endorsement By Fora

PD Sign Off

Batch

Forum Priority

Committee Ranking Category

Committee Priority

PDM Priority

Priority Within Funding Category

Monitoring Report Received

Completion Report Received

PMU Field 1

PMU Field 2

PMU Field 3

On Behalf Of

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