Delays with the Department of Agriculture (Biosecurity): Performance & the Way Forward

Following on from industry wide dissatisfaction, particularly with document assessment processing, and releases of cargo after fumigations/inspections, Biosecurity has now responded regarding their challenges.

They also mention some opportunities for improvements, which we should collectively note and act upon.

Biosecurity acknowledges that clients are currently experiencing delays in receiving their directions and advises that all efforts are being made to manage increased workloads in order to meet published service standards in the Client Service Charter while also effectively managing biosecurity and imported food risks.

Biosecurity has seen an unprecedented demand for services, including:

  • Document lodgements in COLS Online system increasing on average 6% month on month since August 2020
  • 20% increase in imported food and dual (Biosecurity/Food) lodgements
  • Processing of low value import consignments workload increasing by 58% since May 2020 compared to the same period 2019
  • 62% increase of clients lodging applications seeking same day assessment (this has resulted in an unmanageable escalated queue)

Biosecurity has implemented a range of workload management strategies:

  • Diverting skilled resources to the documentation assessment area
    Return of staff to office after working from home, providing wider, faster system access
  • Fast-tracking of training for imported food assessors
  • Allocation of reasonable overtime for staff

Importantly, late last week, Biosecurity implemented a strategy/process that will enable them to identify and prioritise those clients in the escalated queue that submitted documents and treatment requests early - prioritising these clients along with those that are genuinely in the escalated queue (therefore reducing the priority of those consignments that are being lodged late in hopes of getting priority clearance).

How can importers/exporters/customs brokers help?

  • Submit complete, accurate and compliant documentation as early as possible prior to cargo arrival (noting the recent strategy change to assist the prioritisation process, as above)
  • Do not repeatedly call or email Biosecurity on the status of a lodgement for document assessment – this compounds the delays.

At FJT Logistics, we are tracking and expediting affected consignments as one of our priorities.

We hope that Biosecurity going public with their acknowledgement of poor performance and their proposals for improvements will be a catalyst for improved turnaround times.

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