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The award-winning red-tape campaign relied heavily on quality artwork supplied by Megan Zawertailo.

This is how it rolled out…

For three consecutive days, council staff arrived at work to find a strip of red tape blocking the stairs, with a sign attached encouraging them to take the lift.

Lift posters

Over the three days, the following signs were posted in the lift.

Email from general manager

At 9am on day three, all staff received an email from the general manager with the subject line: I’d like to offer you a new job.

I’m pleased to announce that you have been appointed a detective. You won’t need a magnifying glass, phone tapping device or taser. You’ll just need an eye for detecting and cutting red tape.

I want you to think about our systems, our forms, our letters, our language and our processes. I need you to spot what can be simplified and improved so that we can work more effectively and give red carpet service to our customers.

Our communication needs to reflect that we are here to guide and support our customers through any bureaucratic process. People should feel supported, like valued customers, every time they interact with us.

Just because we’ve been doing something the same way for years doesn’t mean it’s what we should be doing. Take a new look. Rethink it. Feel free to suggest a better way.

We need to be realistic. There is no doubt that in local government, much of what we do is defined by legal requirements and that is unlikely to change. As an organisation however, we need to be clear that this does not need to define who we are, or our approach.

So, when you spot red tape, I want you to report it. All you have to do is type ‘Red Tape’ into the address field of an email and detail your thoughts.

Your feedback will be assessed by a Red Tape Taskforce. Taskforce membership will vary, according to who is best placed to deal with the specific issues that are raised. You might be invited to join the taskforce and work through solutions.

I hope you enjoy your new detective role. I’m sure you’ll find cutting red tape very satisfying. It’s a process that will bring great rewards.

Taskforce formed

A Red Tape Taskforce was formed to address red tape. An internal email address was established, so that employees could type Red Tape into the address field of an email and report red tape to the taskforce. The membership of the taskforce varied, according to who was best place to resolve the issue identified.

Awareness was continued through a series of lift posters, which were changed each week. They featured council directors spotting red tape in unusual places – a bowl of soup, someone’s ear – highlighting that they were aware and supportive of the campaign. One featured a director cutting the general manager’s red tie, with the caption: “Red tape. See it. Cut it. No exceptions.”

The posters were placed at council’s 35 satellite offices.

Bottle of plonk

Staff who reported red tape received an email, thanking them, and updates on progress. They were also surprised to receive a bottle of red wine with the following morale-boosting label.

Text messages

The campaign continued with a regular series of text messages to staff phones from the general manager (an inexpensive means of mass communication that council had not used before).

Newsletter update

Staff were emailed a newsletter with short case studies that explained where red tape had been identified and cut.


Six months into the campaign a survey revealed that 98% of employees were aware of the campaign and 49% had either reported a red tape issue or knew a colleague who had reported an issue.

Tracking revealed that staff opened 98% of emails sent by the general manager.

Team leaders presented efficiency initiatives resulting from the red tape campaign to meetings of senior managers.

An award!

The campaign received a national award from Government Communications Australia in 2011.


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