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The QBCC wants to be an insights driven regulator in 2023

Michael Chesterman
Michael Chesterman August 24, 2022

The QBCC’s journey to becoming an insights driven regulator may, unfortunately, be a longer one than first expected.

I outline below the journey that the QBCC has been on in pursuit of this very laudable goal. Since 2018, they’ve encountered numerous challenges along the way.

The recent collapse of Oracle Homes has caused me again to reflect on my time at the regulator. If only I had access to even half of the data I now have at my fingertips at Helix. I would have been a very happy inaugural Compliance Manager of the regulator.

Between our own data pools in Diligence by Helix and the lines of communication we have developed to the data pools of others I am swimming in good quality reliable information.

The world has moved on so much from my days at the regulator. I cannot help but wonder whether the QBCC may have taken earlier proactive steps regarding the company’s entitlement to be licensed. If the QBCC was a fully functioning insights driven regulator and the staff had at their fingertips key insight tools to assist them prioritise their investigations, would it had happened? I do not know the answers and I do not have all the information but I do very much believe in the insight that comes with good, reliable data.

Who knows what the QBCC could have done in these circumstances. Of course it is easy to be wise in hindsight, but I hope that at the very least, the tragic collapse of Oracle Homes sees the QBCC further inspired to be a fully functioning insights driven regulator.

So when did the journey commence for the QBCC to become an insights driven regulator? Well, the QBCC issues a tender for help to prepare an appropriate business case:

This tender closed on 8 January 2018.

I cheered very loud when I learnt of this development!!

As the inaugural Compliance Manager of the predecessor of the QBCC, the Queensland Building Services Authority (1996), I remain a strong supporter of the QBCC becoming an insights driven and proactive regulator.

In an article titled Insights can be a contractor’s nemesis or friend (published August 2020), I state;

‘Contractors need to be aware that the QBCC will be looking to turn data, from a variety of sources, into information and information into insights. This will enable the QBCC to deliver a risk-based compliance and enforcement program.

As the inaugural Compliance Manager of the predecessor of the QBCC, the BSA, I wholeheartedly support the QBCC becoming an effective and fair risk-focused regulator.

The number one objective of the QBCC, as outlined in its Strategic Plan 2020-2024, is to:

“Promote quality, safety, security of payment and licensee sustainability.”

A key strategy in meeting this objective is:

“Early detection – we use insights and risk based regulatory models to focus on the greatest risk areas for the sector.”

If the QBCC is successful in this regard, then contractors ‘doing the right thing’ will be able to go about their daily business with the knowledge that the compliance and enforcement activities of the QBCC will not impact them.’

I had also previously two previous informative articles on the QBCC becoming an insights driven regulator:

The QBCC becoming an insights driven regulator has proved to be challenging

Auditor Generals report

In a report by the Queensland Auditor-General (June 2020) on whether the QBCC effectively regulates the industry, it is stated:

The Auditor General’s recommendation 1 was that the QBCC:

“allocates enough resources to finalise and implement the steps needed to become an insights driven regulator to enable it to prioritise regulatory effort where and when it is needed, including:

  • identifying areas of greatest risk and potential harm
  • focusing on high-value, high-complexity tasks (Chapter 5)”

I note a report by the responsible oversight parliamentary committee. It indicates that a public briefing public briefing in September 2020 (page 9), the QBCC advised:

“The QAO recommended that sufficient resources be allocated to finalise and implement the QBCC’s insights driven regulator program. We have been on that dedicated journey for several years to become an insights driven regulator so that our resources are better directed towards those areas of greatest risk and potential harm.

As an insights driven regulator, we will be better equipped to use data and intelligence to tell us where we should focus our regulatory activities.

To support the QBCC, the Queensland government has funded the insights driven regulator project to this point.

Ongoing funding is, of course, key in the continued delivery of the insights driven regulator program of work and for the QBCC to deliver on the intent of this important initiative.”

The QBCC responded on March 19 2021 after the committee requested a progress update on recommendation by the Auditor General. In part, the QBCC advised:

“The QBCC remains committed to delivering on the Insights Driven Regulator (IDR) program to ensure the QBCC becomes a more efficient and effective risk-based regulator, with a corresponding uplift in staff capability. The proposed five-year delivery timeline for the IDR project anticipated full implementation of the IDR program in 2023.” [my emphasis]

Elsewhere, in the same update, the QBCC states:

“QBCC is also developing a forward-looking strategy (“The Next Normal”) that will embrace the approach of IDR to refocus the organisation with an enhanced technology focus.

The aim of this enhanced approach is to not only provide insights for the regulatory business, but also for the organisation as a whole – to improve resource utilisation, reduce operating cost, enhance prioritisation of regulatory effort, and assist us to adapt to the postpandemic operating environment, to name a few.

The Next Normal will also consider the issue of disparate IT systems”

The QBCC Governance Review

I spend considerable time reviewing the QBCC Governance Review 2022 (report) and Queensland Government Response. I state this in my previous article ‘The Future of the Regulator’.

Under the section relating to recommendation 7 of the report, it states:

“An insights driven organisation is one that uses data and analytics to gain insights and improve performance. To be an effective insights driven regulator, the QBCC must have ready access to information systems and data that provide an in-depth understanding of industry risks and the operating environment. These systems can streamline processes, create efficiencies and support the delivery of effective regulatory outcomes.”

Elsewhere, under the same section of the report, it further states:

“The existing systems, particularly the systems at the end of life, are hindering the QBCC’s ability to transform into a truly insights driven regulator.” [my emphasis]

Recommendation 7 is ‘invest in an integrated information management system that is contemporary, fit-for-purpose and aligns with the organisation’s functions.’

Furthermore, I note that the section relating to recommendation 14. This section is to implement a contemporary and sustainable funding model to enable the QBCC to effectively regulate the industry. In this section of the report, it states:

“The QBCC must be given an immediate cash injection to enable it to implement the recommendations in this report, including training programs and a purpose built integrated IT system.”

The government’s response to recommendation 7 is:

“The Queensland government supports this recommendation in principle, recognising a detailed business case will need to be prepared to identify functionality requirements and funding implications.”

Final thoughts

Neither of these two recommendations and accompanying commentary in the report shed light on the QBCC becoming an insights driven regulator. Presently, reading between the lines and observing the QBCC’s journey, I have my doubts about them getting there next year.

I sincerely hope I am wrong.

I guess we will have to wait and see if the QBCC becomes a fully-fledged, effective insights driven regulator in 2023.

Not intended as legal advice. Read full disclaimer.
Michael Chesterman
Michael Chesterman August 24, 2022

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